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Asian Hornets Terrorize The French
Posted August 21st, 2009 No Comments
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Asian Hornet I don’t know if this is a good picture of life on the fab side, but it definitely stunned me when I read the article. Swarms of giant asian hornets renowned for their vicious stings and skill at massacring honeybees have settled in France. I have to admit that I first heard about the asian hornet, also known as vespa velutina, many years ago but I didn’t think much of it back then.

Today I found this article in the news about this hornet spreading hysteria in France. The first question I asked myself was how on earth the hornet made its way to France in the first place. I didn’t have to read far to find the answer. Vespa velutina is thought to have arrived in France from the Far East in a consignment of Chinese pottery in late 2004. Once again we can only blame ourselves and face the consequences.They first settled in the forests of Aquitaine, but quickly fanned out to surrounding areas, thriving on rising temperatures linked to global warming and the lack of indigenous predators. The giant hornet is a lot bigger than the regular bees we’re used to in Europe or the US. The asian hornet can grow up to 3cm in length and it can take out entire bee colonies in a matter of hours.

Denis Thiery, an Asian hornet specialist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, said there was nothing to halt their spread. “From one nest discovered in 2004, there were 2,000 in the Bordeaux area in 2007. Today there are probably several thousand in surrounding departments,” he said.

“According to our studies, they are able to settle in 50 per cent of the country. The European hornet is no match for them, with only a few hundred individuals per nest compared to several thousand for the yellow-footed hornets. They do sometimes fight, but it’s a losing battle,” he told the newspaper Le Parisien.

National Geographic called it the hornet from hell in one of their programs.

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Local authorities in the tourist region of Lot-et-Garonne have issued a statement urging people with bee allergies to be “extremely cautious”. “Never attempt to destroy an Asian hornet nest yourself but call on specialist organisations, as this species charges in a group as soon as it feels its nest is threatened.”

Besides the risk to humans, the hornets have decimated France’s already dwindling bee population. Squadrons of the insects hover over hives and pick off hapless honeybees in mid-air. A handful can destroy a nest of 30,000 bees in just a couple of hours.

In Asia, honeybees form a ball of workers around the intruder and kill it by heatstroke. But in France, the technique appears to have no effect. Beekeepers suspect that the creatures are also massacring other indigenous insect species. “Nobody can say what damage the Asian hornet has done outside of our hives. What is certain is that last autumn there were less insects than before,” said Richard Legrand, a keeper in Bergerac.

Looks like Europe may be facing a serious problem in the years to come. The temps are rising and the hornets are thriving. Lets hope this problem can be dealt with before it all gets completely out of hand.

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