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Asian hornet could enter UK in 2 decades

The yellow legged or Asian hornet, a voracious predator of honey bees and other beneficial insects, could rapidly colonise the UK unless its spread is combatted, according to new research by the Universities of Warwick and Newcastle, working with the National Bee Unit.

Professor Matt Keeling, from Warwick's Zeeman Institute for Systems Biology & Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research (SBIDER), predicts that if Asian hornet nests are left to thrive in the UK, there could be hundreds of thousands of them in just over two decades, putting a critical strain on British populations of honey bees and other beneficial insects.

The researchers simulated the likely spread of Asian hornet across the UK over a twenty-five year period, starting from a single active nest in a location near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, where the first verified nest in the UK was discovered and destroyed in 2016.

It is believed that Asian hornet first came to Europe in 2004, in an import of Chinese pottery to France. Since then, Asian hornet has spread through France to infest Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium -- and was first identified in the UK in 2016.

Professor Matt Keeling, the lead author of the research, commented:

"Our research shows the potential for this predator to successfully invade and colonise the UK, spreading rapidly from any new invasion site. Even if we have managed to successfully control this first invasion, the presence of a growing population of these hornets in Northern Europe makes future invasions inevitable."

Click here to read more at www.sciencedaily.com.

Publication date: 8/9/2017


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