Beijing: At least 42 people have been killed and around 1,640 people injured in an unusual spate of hornet attacks in China since July, health officials said on Thursday.
Among the people injured in the attacks, 206 are receiving treatment in hospital, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said, calling for urgent efforts in treating patients and minimising the number of casualties.
"With the development of air-conditioning, urban landscaping and residential environment, hornets have started to migrate and relocate to cities, which has increased the probability of their hurting people," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
It quoted Huang Rongyao -- a senior official concerned with pest control in the city of Ankang, which has borne the brunt of the attacks -- as attributing the phenomenon to warmer-than-usual temperatures in the region.
"Furthermore, hornets are sensitive to bright colours, the smell of human sweat, alcohol, perfume, any specially scented articles and things that are sweet as well as the running of humans or animals," Huang said.
Hua Baozhen, a professor of entomology at Northwest Agriculture Forestry University, attributed the attacks mostly to a decrease in the number of the hornets` natural enemies, such as spiders and birds, due to ecological changes.
South China`s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region also reported human injuries from hornet bites between July and September, the agency said.