The death of a man stung by an Asian hornet has exacerbated fears over the invasive species that has taken France by storm and could reach Britain within three years.
Patrice Verry, 38, was stung by one of the predators on Saturday after trying to wave it away with a kitchen towel at a barbecue in Lherm, in the Haute-Garonne region of southwestern France.
He collapsed minutes later and never regained consciousness, police said. In June another man died in the Médoc region after receiving several stings.
The local mayor said the number of hornet nests had “exploded” in the area. “Our villages are powerless,” said Jean Aycaguer…
The bee-eating invaders, unmistakable due to their dark hue and yellow feet, first settled in the forests of Aquitaine, but quickly spread to surrounding areas along waterways, thriving due to a total lack of indigenous predators.
There are now thought to be 2,000 nests and the voracious insects’ battlefront has reached the shores of northern Brittany. Two nests were recently found in Spain…
“We have modelled its potential spread by cross-checking data from France and Asia, and concluded it is capable of living anywhere in Europe and certainly in Britain,” said Mr Muller.
Its widespread presence means it is now impossible to eradicate. “This species is now part of French fauna. We’ll just have to get used to living with it,” said Claire Villemant of the Museum of National History.
I know you can’t get it right every time; but, don’t the French inspect shipping containers for non-native flora and fauna? Back in the day I recall being notified by the Department of Agriculture that a non-native species of termite was discovered in wooden packing crates from Japan. We were required to provide several samples of crates from our warehouses for testing by the USDA – and then destroy all the crates by burning them.
That happened more than once. Incoming traffic might not be caught on the spot; but, within a reasonable period of time, everything was checked.
For all I know, we may not be doing that anymore in the US either.