A man from Newport, South Wales claims his encounter with super wasps involved being stung 37 times.
David Williams-Jones, a 42-year-old from Bassaleg town, said he accidentally stood on a nest and was attacked by large European hornets while visiting Kenfig National Nature Reserve. He was with Harvey, his 10-year-old son, during the incident.
Harvey was able to run and got away while he was stung repeatedly by a swarm of hornets, recounted Williams-Jones, still covered in marks from the stings.
He said the attack could have killed his son, based on stories he has heard about hornets killing both young and old. "I am incredibly thankful that my son managed to get away," he said.
A spokesperson at the nature reserve said the incident was not reported to their office but emphasized they have an existing policy governing such incidents.
On the other hand, a spokesperson from the Bridgend County Borough Council said that while the reserve shelters bees and wasps, it "would be a surprise" to find the super wasps there because they favor woodland settings and nesting in cavities of trees.
William-Jones, now having regular sunbed sessions to help address the skin redness, claimed he was left traumatized and had "visions and nightmares of flying insects" attacking him.
European hornets are about four centimeters (1.6 inches) long; with a reddish-brown thorax and front abdominal part that has a black striping on a yellow background. They have three pairs of legs, two pairs of wings, and two large eyes.
There have been recent spottings of the European hornet in Wales, such as in the areas of Newport and Pontypool. An increase in hornet and wasp activity has been noted this year.
Various physical differences distinguish the European hornet from its Asian cousin, one is the sole yellow abdominal band on the latter. The European kind, which is native to the United Kingdom, has two bands.
According to Gwent Beekeepers' Association swarm liaison officer Ken Key, he is surprised at their presence. "Wasps are the smaller versions and the threats to bees in the summers," he warned, citing they put entrance holes to allow bees and particularly weak colonies to defend their hives.
A hornet's sting is deemed less dangerous than that of a honeybee, but the European hornet typically stings more than once. Usually given when the insects are provoked, a sting can be painful and leads to swelling, which makes it important to cool the affected area.
Photo: Benjamin Smith | Flickr