Asian hornet sighting confirmed in Jersey

Asian hornet Image copyright States of Jersey
Image caption Asian hornets have spread "exponentially" in Jersey according to the island's government

An Asian hornet has been found hibernating in hessian sacking in Jersey.

The sighting is thought to be the first of 2019 in the UK or Channel Islands.

Experts say the recent warm spell may have encouraged hornets to emerge from hibernation earlier than usual.

Islanders are being asked to keep an eye out for the insects - which feed by biting the heads off bees and eating the rest - so experts can track the species and nests can be destroyed.

In Jersey, 17 nests were found in 2017 and 55 in 2018.

Bob Hogge, from the Jersey Asian Hornet Group, said there could be about 150 nests this year and that last year's success finding and destroying every nest reported would have reduced the number of queens.

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"The problem is we don't know how many we will find this year until the end of the season and 150 nests will be a great challenge," he said.

"If at the end of the year, we have failed to destroy all the known nests, then we have lost the battle."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Asian hornet is now common across Europe after being accidentally introduced to France in 2004 in a shipment of pottery from China

The species was first seen in Britain in Gloucestershire in 2016, but there were further sightings in Woolacombe, Devon, in 2017.

They have also been spotted in Guernsey, Alderney and Sark in the Channel Islands.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said there had been no sightings in the UK since 14 October.

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