Sunday 2 October 2016

Asian Hornets and Human Beings: what do they have in common?

Asian hornet Vespa velutina (Image from Wildlife Trusts)
I've been thinking a great deal about the Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, which could wreak havoc on honeybees and native wild bees in the UK if left unchecked.

For those who are unaware, an Asian hornet nest was found recently near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. It has now been destroyed; hopefully before any new queens had a chance to emerge and disperse.

The discovery of this non-native invasive species has understandably caused great alarm and concern- especially amongst the beekeeping community- and the response from the authorities has been to act swiftly to try and prevent this species from colonising.

None of the responses in the mainstream media or social media 
to the potential invasion of the Asian hornet surprise me. Indeed most have been entirely appropriate. However they have left me wondering what it is in human beings that make us (seemingly) oblivious to our own impact on the natural world; or at least unwilling to do what is needed to check that impact.  

The damage to native eco systems caused by non-native invasive species - no matter how serious and how huge - pales into insignificance compared with the damage we, as a race, cause to the planet as a whole.
If there is a higher intelligence out there, watching our progress as we explore space and other planets, I should think they are probably on red alert by now. I can just imagine the headlines if we ever managed to colonise one of these planets.....
"Alert! Human colony found on planet xMy$7z! Individuals and groups of this (highly intelligent and social) species have been spotted building structures on the mountains above &^^^%. Humans vary in temperament. Some forms are mild, respectful, thoughtful and gentle; wishing only to share our resources and work alongside local native inhabitants for the greater good of the whole. These forms may not pose a threat and could even contribute and add ecological value to the existing community of flora and fauna. Other forms however can be extremely aggressive, demanding and controlling, even when unprovoked.

Collectively this species poses one of the biggest threats in the solar system to an unprotected planet. Their voraciousness knows no bounds. They have already colonised and destroyed Planet Earth. Approach with care and please notify the intergalactic authorities if you see one of these individuals or groups in your zone. Etc, etc....."

An interesting and balanced article about the Asian hornet from a beekeeper in France who has first hand experience of this species - Asian Hornet

Useful identification guide here - Wildlife Trusts: Asian hornet

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