An annual run hosted at the Highclere Castle Estate, the filming location of Downton Abbey, has been attacked by a swarm of hundreds of Japanese Hornets.
Dozens of participants in the race were injured after being stung by the hornets. One runner, who received multiple stings after collapsing in the swarm, was later taken to hospital for treatment of his injuries.
Japanese Hornets are a particularly large and aggressive breed that can grow to 5cm or 2inches long and have a 6mm venom filled sting. They are carnivorous and a single hornet is capable of killing 40 honey bees in a single minute.
It is believed that the hornets arrived in France in 2004 within a consignment of Asian pottery. Since then they have been terrorising French villages and have killed 6 people. Until now the English Channel had prevented them crossing to the UK, however it is believed that this year’s warm and dry summer has now facilitated their arrival to British shores.
In their native East Asia, they are estimated to kill between 30-40 people each year. Medical officials state that anyone who receives more than 10 stings should seek medical treatment, and those should who receive more than 30 stings should seek emergency treatment immediately as the hornet’s venom can cause renal (kidney) failure.
Sheila Davies, Head of Pest Control at Protectahome commented:
“These hornets should certainly be given a wide berth, they are considerably more dangerous than our native hornets, bees and wasps. As the incident at Highclere Castle highlights these hornets are very aggressive and will not hesitate to swarm and attack if they feel at all threatened.
“Any persons that suspect the presence of Japanese Hornets on their property should not attempt removal themselves and should contact a Pest Control contractor immediately.”