Fears about swarms of Asian hornets have been sparked by an upsurge in numbers of nests found on the Channel Island of Jersey.
Some 13 active nests have been destroyed on the island already, compared to just 12 nests in the whole of last year, according to The Sun newspaper.
If someone is allergic to a hornet’s venom they could go into anaphylactic shock and need hospital treatment after just one sting.
However, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) explained there was not anything specifically more dangerous about Asian hornets compared to regular European hornets or even common wasps.
Regardless, the insects could be an unwelcome nuisance in your pub garden this summer and are a threat to bees and other wildlife.
A warm spring followed by weeks of rain means that conditions are ripe for the hornets to breed.
“Prevention is always better than cure,” according to Scott Johnstone, communications manager at the BPCA.
Here are the BPCA’s top tips to keep the creatures away from customers:
1. Secure your site to ensure they cannot enter. Standard fly screens can help with this as well as sealing window and door frames.
2. Ensure the lid is on bins because open bins will attract pests and ensure main bins are stored away from the main building.
3. If there are any fruit trees in your beer garden, pick up any fallen fruit quickly.
Johnstone explained: “Wasps and hornets eat rotting, fermented fruit and get inebriated. Nothing ruins a pub lunch like drunk wasps!”
Clear up food
As with other pests, hornets will be attracted by any leftover food.
Somerset Beekeepers' Association publicity officer Anne Pike explained pests are interested in different food throughout the year.
She said: “In the spring, hornets are much more interested in sugary stuff but once they have laid their young, from July and onwards, they are more interested in protein.
“Meaty and fishy food scraps are interesting to Asian hornets but a good publican would not leave debris like that about anyway,” she added.
If you suspect a swarm in your pub, the best thing to do is find a qualified and audited pest management company to help get rid of it.
If you believe it is an Asian hornets’ nest, you should also take a photo and report it to the non-native species secretariat NNSS (firstname.lastname@example.org).