Experts issue chilling Asian hornet warning as predators look to survive winter

Homeowners have been warned to check their wardrobes and drawers after a pensioner spotted a killer Asian hornet inside her trousers.

The startled woman dialled 999 after she managed to trap the killer bug inside a yoghurt pot on Wellington Hill, Jersey.

Officers and beekeepers rushed to the scene as part of their mission to crackdown on hornets in the Channel Islands.

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It comes as volunteers recorded more than twice as many hornets than ever before in the UK this year.

The experts thought they had time to regroup ready to go again next year under the expectation they had gone into hibernation for the winter.

But the unusual discovery has prompted a warning that they could be seeking warmth for the winter.

A total of 174 nests were discovered on Jersey during the season – more than double the previous record of 68.

Describing the latest discovery, hunter and beekeeper John de Carteret said it should be a warning to everyone.

He added: "So although the Asian Hornet nests appear to have stopped at number 174, which is a massive increase for Jersey this year, I'm afraid there's another concern, to be aware of.

"On my arrival, she (the elderly woman) had it still alive and buzzing, trapped under a clear yoghurt tub, and it clearly was a large Asian hornet, almost certainly a queen, which will be confirmed during dissection.

"But here's the concern, the lady found this Asian hornet when she took a pair of trousers, out of a wardrobe upstairs in her bedroom, where this likely Asian hornet queen was in hibernation.

"It flew to the window, where she bravely managed to capture it.

"They never look the same dead, apart from the smirk on its face, but a couple identification features can clearly be seen, the orange face, and in particular the yellow lower legs."

The battle in both Jersey and Guernsey is seen as vital to stopping the spread of the insects that could decimate the UK's native bee population.

This year's tally of 174 compares to a previous record of 83 nests located by the Jersey Asian Hornet Group in 2019, followed by 38 and 63 in the two subsequent years.

The species began to spread through Europe in 2004 after arriving in the south of France inside a freight ship.

They were spotted in the British Isles on the Channel Island of Jersey in late 2016.

But after years of establishing themselves on Jersey and Guernsey, the battleground shifted last year to Southern England.

This led to calls for a "people's army" to help fight off an impending invasion of killer hornets onto mainland Britain.

The hornets are able to kill with one sting among people who have an allergy, while they also pose a threat to the environment and native species.

One hornet can also eat 50 bees in a day.

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