Asian hornets are set to arrive in the UK in record numbers over the next few weeks, experts have warned.
Unsettled weather will reportedly create a “perfect breeding ground” for the enormous flying insects which could see them appear in large numbers from 7 September onwards.
The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) says Asian hornets are now most likely to be spotted in the south of England.
And Lynne Ingram, co-ordinator of Somerset’s Asian hornet action teams, warned the species can give a powerful sting and will “play havoc” with the UK's bee population.
Small pockets of the hornets have been spotted in previous years, mainly around the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, but the BBKA say the public's help is now desperately needed.
They have called on people to send in photos of their nests so they can be destroyed before the hornets are able to multiply.
“See it, snap it and send it!” Ingram said.
“We need the public’s help to save our bees from the Asian hornet which has been wreaking havoc through Europe since 2004.”
"Now is the time to spot the hornets so that their nests can be destroyed before they multiply.
“If you see a hornet take a photo, send it to us and we’ll do the rest. Or use the official Asian hornet watch app and report it.
"The arrival of the hornet in Britain is especially bad news for bees, a favourite food source, and a single hornet can completely devastate a beehive, devouring up to 60 at a time.”
The University of Exeter is carrying our research into the impact Asian hornets are having on honeybees and other pollinators where they become established.
Research fellow and behavioural ecologist Dr Peter Kennedy said: “Asian hornets are anticipated to be a significant mortality factor influencing a broad spectrum of insects, including honeybees, on top of existing stressors (habitat loss, disease, pollution, climate change, etc.) that already impact our beleaguered native pollinator community.
“Worldwide, invasive non-native species are recognised as being a serious threat to biodiversity, and it is consequently important that we encourage the public to be informed, vigilant and proactive in reporting the presence of Asian hornets and other invasive species.”
The hornets are able to kill with one sting among people who have an allergy, while they also pose a threat to the environment and native species.
One hornet can also eat 50 bees in a day.