Asian hornets may cause £7.6m in environmental damage, study finds

Invasion of Asian hornets could cause £7.6million in environmental damage a year, study finds

  • Nest destruction, fighting the invasion and damage caused by the invasion are the three main contributing factors to the large bill, according to the study
  • Asian hornets were accidentally introduced to France, thought to be unknowingly transported in cargo from China in 2004 and arrived in UK in 2016
  • The wasps, which can kill with one sting, prey on small creatures like honeybees
  • Have you got pictures of giant hornets in the UK? Email them to pictures@dailymail.co.uk 

Asian hornets are invading the UK and it could cost us millions of pounds, according to a new study.

Experts have warned their environmental destruction could cost the UK up to £7.6 million pounds every year – with costs included in destroying their nests, fighting the invasion and damage caused by them.

The wasps, which can kill with a single sting, are having a devastating impact on Britain’s already dwindling honeybee population.

Asian hornets are similar to European hornets but they are not native to the UK.

Invasion of Asian hornets are having a devastating impact on UK’s honeybee population

They are large insects, originally from Southeast Asia, that prey on small creatures – especially bees.

Just one sting is enough to kill someone allergic to their venom.

The yellow legged wasps were accidentally introduced to France from China in 2004 and they have been spreading rapidly throughout Europe ever since.

Experts estimate the Asian hornet colonised most of France at a rate of 60 to 80 kilometres per year.

And the species has swiftly been invading other countries including Spain in 2010, Portugal and Belgium in 2011, Italy in 2012 and Germany in 2014.

The invasive hornets made it to the UK in 2016.

French scientists evaluated the estimated cost of this non-native hornet invasion to Europe.

How did Asian hornets arrive in Europe?

Asian Hornets are similar to European hornets but they are not native to the UK. 

They were accidentally introduced to France back in 2004, thought to be unknowingly transported in cargo from China and made it to the UK in 2016.

A single sting can kill someone allergic to their venom.

They prey on small creatures and are having a devastating impact on Britain’s dwindling honeybee population.

A study has found it could cost the UK a total of £7.6m a year in damages caused by the invasion, to fight the invasion and to destroy nests.

They did so by analysing the negative impact Asian hornets have on ecosystems and the global decline in pollination and honey production.

The invasion is mainly controlled by destroying hornet nests and bait trapping.

But the authors say these methods are not enough to completely eradicate the species.

The team divided costs into three main categories – prevention of the invasion, fighting the invasion, and damage caused by the invasion.

The cost of fighting the invasion was the price of nest destruction – calculated by studying the companies that provide the service.

Results showed the estimated yearly cost for eradicating Asian hornets would be 11.9 million euros (10.5 million pounds) for France, nine million euros (eight million pounds) for Italy and 8.6 million euros (7.6 million pounds) for the UK.

The killer wasps were accidentally introduced to Europe in 2004 and arrived in the UK in 2016

In Japan and South Korea, where the species has already been observed, the total yearly cost is estimated at 19.5 million euros (17.2 million pounds) and 11.9 million euros (10.5 million pounds) respectively.

The USA, Australia, Turkey and Argentina are also in danger with experts estimating the cost to be 26.9 million euros (23.8 million pounds or 29.3 million dollars) to the USA alone.

Have you seen an Asian hornet in the UK?

Have you got pictures of giant hornets in the UK? Email them to pictures@dailymail.co.uk

Research leader Professor Franck Courchamp said: ‘In 2006, only two years after the hornet was first observed in France, three departments were already invaded and the cost of nest destruction was estimated at 408,000 euros.

‘Since then, the estimated yearly costs have been increasing by about 450,000 euros each year, as the hornet keeps spreading and invades new departments.

‘Overall, we estimated 23 million euros as the cost of nest destruction between 2006 and 2015.

‘If the hornet keeps spreading at a similar rate, we expect the yearly cost of nest destruction to reach an estimated value of 11.9 million euros (given that all suitable areas are invaded) in just 12 years.’

A study found it could cost the UK £7.6m a year to destroy nests and eradicate Asian hornets

So far, nest destruction is the most effective way to fight the invasion but experts say it is not enough to kill off the species.

Only 30 to 40 per cent of the detected nests are destroyed each year in France.

And those that are destroyed are the ones that have been deemed particularly harmful to human or beekeeping activities.

The scientists are calling for more active measures and research into the invasion of Asian hornets.

Professor Courchamp said: ‘The current study presents only the first estimates of the economic costs resulting from the Asian hornet, but definitely more actions need to be taken in order to handle harmful invasive species – one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.’

The study was published in the journal NeoBiota.

Asian hornet sightings in the UK should be reported using the Asian Hornet Watch app.

Have you got pictures of giant hornets in the UK? Email them to pictures@dailymail.co.uk 

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