Cyclists hospitalised after hornet attack in France

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By Euronews  with AFP
FILE - European hornet (Vespa crabro) eats a rotten pear near Rennes, western France, on September 12, 2020.
FILE - European hornet (Vespa crabro) eats a rotten pear near Rennes, western France, on September 12, 2020.   -   Copyright  DAMIEN MEYER / AFP

Three cyclists in France needed emergency medical treatment after being stung multiple times by hornets while out riding in the Loire region.

The incident happened on Sunday in a wooded area where the men were riding mountain bikes. 

Two of the cyclists, aged 72 and 51, were stung about fifty times each by the hornets, while the third man was stung about 15 times. 

A dozen firemen and three ambulances were called to the scene, and local emergency services said they had never responded to an incident like this before.

What are hornets?

Hornets are the largest of the wasp family native to Europe. Like bees, hornets live in large colonies with a single queen and thousands of workers and build their nests from tree fibres. 

While hornets usually prefer to avoid contact with humans, they will sting as a defence mechanism in response to having their nest disturbed, and can be aggressive near their food source too. 

Hornets hunt insects like beetles, moths, dragonflies and wasps. They will also eat rotting fruit they might find on the ground.