Warnings have been issued after Asian hornets were sighted in the UK.
The invasive species worships native honey bees and can damage the ecological role they play as well as disrupting commercial beekeeping.
The National Bee Unit said a sighting of the insects was recorded in Rayleigh, Essex.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said work was already underway to monitor hornet activity and identify any nests nearby.
Three Asian Hornets have been confirmed at Rayleigh in Essex after being found and captured by a member of the BBKA Asian Hornet Action Team (AHAT). It comes a month after a confirmed sighting of a single hornet in Chelmsford, a few miles north of Rayleigh #bees #Beekeeping
– BBKA (@britishbee) September 28, 2022
The insects – not to be confused with Asian giant hornets – usually only become aggressive towards humans if they perceive a threat to their nest.
They are smaller than the native hornet and pose no greater risk to human health than native wasps and hornets.
Asian hornets, which have a mostly black belly and distinctive yellow legs, were first spotted in Gloucestershire, UK, in September 2016.
Nicola Spence, Defra’s Chief Plant and Bee Health Officer, said: “By ensuring we are notified of potential sightings as early as possible, we can act quickly and effectively to eradicate the Asian hornet threat.
“As such, we are working flat out to locate and survey all nests in the area following this confirmed sighting
“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, we recognize the damage they can inflict on honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.”
Ms Spence added that members of the public who spot Asian hornets should report the sighting online or via the Asian Hornet Watch app.
The Essex sighting is the first confirmed insect species in the country since April 2022, when a single Asian hornet was caught in Felixstowe, Suffolk.
The cost of eradicating the invasive species on private land is borne by the Veterinary and Phytosanitary Authority.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/national/uk-today/22834237.warning-bee-killer-asian-hornets-spotted-uk/?ref=rss Warning after Asian hornet ‘bee killers’ sighted in UK