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Perspective: Landed - the latest summer arrivals; We may not have melted in record temperatures this summer, but changes to our climate have brought something new this year. Rachel Armstrong rounds up the weird, wonderful and not so nice insects now invading our shores.

Watching huge swarms of dangerous insects and fish on nature programmes can be fascinating, and we can always relax, safe in the knowledge that the UK isn't affected.

But now higher temperatures are encouraging foreign insects and fish to invade our shores. The discovery of the tropical trigger fish off the Dorset coast this week is the latest in a series of new arrivals.

Warmer seas mean tropical fish are tempted into British waters and the hot summer is making it easier for insects like wasps to breed.

Henry Arnold from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology explains: 'No-one quite knows exactly what it is encouraging these insects over at the moment.

'But changes in the climate making the weather warmer will mean that more insects from Europe are likely to be coming over to the UK from Europe.

'Hover flies came over in a huge swarm last week from France because of the winddirection, and the weather conditions would have been good for them.

'Wasps from Europe were probably initially carried over to Europe by people or else just a few flew over but the warm weather has made them want to stay.'

But the climate is also having an effect on our domestic creepycrawlies. The number of ants and common wasps have soared this year.

Flying ants, which are actually just common black ants who develop wings during the fertile summer season, have prompted hundreds of calls from worried members of the public.

Tony Stephens from Rentokil: 'It's definitely been a good year for the insects. There's been an increase in calls for our services allover the country this summer.' The new arrivals include:TRIGGER FISH

Spotted two miles from the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset this fish is normally more at home in the Caribbean or Great Barrier Reef. The fish gained its name due to its dorsal spike which it flicks upright and locks in place to fend off predators. It's harmless to humans, though its eyeballs which rotate independently of one another are a sight to behold.

MEDIAN WASP A European variant on the British common wasp, it first arrived on the south coast about ten years ago and has gradually made its way north. It's the samesize as the British wasp but has a darker abdomen and builds its nests in trees or bushes. If a nest is attacked the creatures are more aggressive than the British wasp and the stings more painful. It can be fatal to anyone allergic to wasp stings.

EUROPEAN YELLOW TAILED SCORPION A small colony has lived in the South East for several years but the good weather means they're spreading rapidly and turning up in people's homes and gardens. They only sting humans if they appear a threat but the stings can be fatal to the very young and elderly. For adults the stings are mildly painful but cause no lasting damage.

HOVER FLIES They may look like wasps but are actually completely harmless. Flying across the channel in their thousands they've blighted holidays for visitors to the Essex coast this summer. They don't sting but don't make sitting outside particularly pleasant. They feed on pollen and are attracted to bright colours - explaining why tourists in Hawaiian shirts are often a popular target.


What to do when you encounter one of the newcomers:

Stings: Tony Stephens from Rentokil says: 'Obviously the best advice on avoiding stings is to be cautious and stay completely still but that's easier said than done. Wasps are out looking for food, not to sting people.

'They actually prefer meat to sugary foods as they can feed it to their larvae so that's why they hang around barbecues. They're attracted to sweet foods though since these build up their wing muscles so avoid having these foods outside.

'If wasps won't go away the best advice is to use some kind of insect spray to kill them.'

And scorpions?

'There aren't any products aimed specially at scorpions but there are general products which would be effective against them,' he adds - wasp spray, for example, should be effective.

'Like wasps they don't set out to sting humans so caution is the best protection.'

Wasps nests: Stephens says: 'If you have a wasps' nest in your house be very careful, they can be extremely dangerous. A football-sized nest can contain up to 20,000 wasps and the insects will defend it.

'We'd advise professional help but if you want to do it yourself there are products you can use.'

He advises sticking to the product guidelines and recommends tackling wasps' nests at dusk, when the insects are quieter.

'Try and do it as quickly as possible since the wasps will get more agitated the longer you're there and wear protective clothing. Don't do it if you know you react badly to stings.

'And be careful - people often get injured falling off ladders while flapping trying to deal with wasps' nests.'

Ants nests: 'Most ants you find in your garden are harmless so you can deal with a nest yourself,' Stephens says.

'Ants nests are often found in partitioning and in cracks under patios.


Clockwise, from top left: the scorpion; a trigger fish; hover fly; wasps; ants; a fly swot - it could come in useful
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 16, 2004
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