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15 Jun, 2020 14:34

Suspected sightings of ‘murder hornets’ in English city fuel fears of species’ spread

Suspected sightings of ‘murder hornets’ in English city fuel fears of species’ spread

Sightings of giant wasp-like insects in the northern English city of Hull have sparked fears that Asian ‘murder hornets’ have shown up on the country’s shores. The alarm has been stoked by recent reports of the species in the US.

“All of a sudden, this thing came flying over us and we just thought, ‘what the hell is that?’” said Hull resident Samantha Stoneley of her recent encounter with one of the monstrous flying insects. 

“It was huge,” she told local reporters.

I've been to a lot of places, including Australia, and I've never seen something quite that big.

Stoneley, however, wasn’t the only local scared by such a creature, with another Hull family experiencing similar terror in the space of just a few days.

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A toddler playing in a garden nearby unwittingly horrified his father after calling him to come and see a ‘spider’ he had found. Paul Everingham told Hull Live that he managed to put the alarming-looking insect – which was quite clearly not a spider – into a box for a closer look. 

“Its body is about an inch [long] and the stinger is at least another half an inch. Altogether, it is at least as big as your thumb,” he said. Based on alarming reports of ‘Asian murder hornets’ in the US, Everingham began to fear that was just what his young son had found in their garden. 

“A distinctive feature is they have yellow legs, which this definitely has,” he told the local outlet. “It said online that it can kill humans in one shot.” 

Fortunately for the people of Hull, the Asian giant hornet, also known as the ‘murder hornet’ is yet to be officially spotted there. Instead, the large insect that has been giving residents pause looks much more like a giant horntail wasp, a wood-eating bug which – unlike the huge hornet – is harmless to humans, according to experts. 

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The Asian hornet species has shown up in the US for the first time in recent months, sparking something of a panic amid fears of its excruciating – and potentially lethal – sting. While that’s obviously an unpleasant prospect for any humans who encounter it, the bug poses even more danger to bees and related ecosystems, as the invaders break into hives and ‘murder’ the residents en masse. Luckily, the chances of the hornets fully settling into a new continent are very limited at this point.

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