Public warned to report Asian hornet sightings amid invasive species spike

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By Creative Media News

  • Volatile conditions raise UK invasion risks of Chinese mitten crab, fire ant
  • UK urges public to report Asian hornet sightings to protect pollinators
  • Nature groups call for increased funding to combat invasive species threats

According to nature organizations, volatile conditions have increased the likelihood that new species will establish themselves in the United Kingdom, including the Chinese mitten crab, Chinese enigma snail, and red imported fire ant.

As nature organizations warn of a possible increase in destructive invasive non-native species, individuals are urged to report any observations of Asian hornets this summer.

The Chief Plant Health Officer of the United Kingdom, Nicola Spence, has urged beekeepers and members of the general public to report sightings of the hornet following the observation of an all-time high in the country last year.

While not more hazardous to human health than their native counterparts, Asian hornets threaten insect pollinators and honey bees.

In March, Paul Hetherington, director of communications and engagement for the Buglife charity, warned that the insects—capable of consuming as many as fifty honeybees daily—are almost undoubtedly “breeding and residing in the United Kingdom.”

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has stated that early trapping is crucial to eradication, even though the species still needs to be established in the United Kingdom.

It follows a warning by Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL). This organization represents 83 nature organizations, and the recent inundation and rising temperatures have increased the likelihood of the growth and spread of problem species already present in the United Kingdom.

This includes Japanese knotweed, which increases flood hazards and outcompetes native species; giant hogweed, whose sap can cause skin burns; and Himalayan balsam, which can cause structural damage.

According to the WCL, the unstable conditions have also increased the likelihood that new species will establish themselves in the United Kingdom, such as the Chinese mystery snail, red imported fire ant, and Chinese mitten crab, which are making their way across Europe.

The coalition demands a threefold increase in the annual budget for invasive species biosecurity to £3 million, plus an additional £3 million to establish a permanent inspectorate dedicated to invasive species.

WCL chief executive Richard Benwell stated, “Invasive species are already one of the greatest environmental hazards in the United Kingdom, as they obstruct native species and suffocate waterways.

In addition to causing billions of pounds in property and business damage annually, they pose health risks to humans.

The coalition, which includes the River Trust, Plantlife, and Buglife, is urging the government to take action beginning on Monday to observe Invasive Non-native Species Week.

Mr. Benwell stated that funding a fully-fledged inspectorate and implementing a robust invasive species strategy could help prevent the decline of nature and strengthen the economy’s resilience.

DEFRA stated that the Asian Hornet Watch App allows the general public to report sightings of the hornets, which have broad orange stripes on their abdomens and yellow legs if they come across any.

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The National Bee Unit is prepared to respond promptly and effectively to any additional potential sightings after destroying 72 nests in 56 locations (mostly in Kent) and attending to every credible report last year, the organization said.

Invasive species endanger our native biodiversity and annually cost the economy billions of dollars; therefore, we support the Invasive Species Inspectorate in their mission to safeguard the nation’s biosecurity,” stated a DEFRA spokesperson.

We maintain our dedication to further detecting, protecting, and eradicating the threats of invasive non-native species by implementing our Invasive Non-Native Species Strategy. We are bolstering collaboration and coordination with the general public, land managers, and businesses to achieve this.

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