PEST management experts are using Invasive Species Week to urge the public to be alert to the presence of the Asian hornet.

The invasive species preys on Britain’s native honey bees and is capable of wiping out entire colonies.

National trade body the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) is calling on the public to report any sightings, so that action can be taken to stop the pest taking hold in the UK.

The Asian hornet is common across Europe and authorities in the UK have a procedure in place to react if sightings are found.

To date, the pest has been seen in locations including the South of England, the Midlands and the North, as well the Channel Islands.

Dee Ward-Thompson, technical manager of the BPCA, said: “The Asian hornet poses a very real threat to our native species of bees.

“BPCA members have been aware of the issue it poses for some time.

“They are well-aware of the action to take to report any sightings and have the skills to deal with this type of pest should the need arise.”

The Asian hornet is most likely found in southern parts of England but could also be accidentally imported among goods such as soil, cut flowers, fruit and timber.

Asian hornets are smaller than our native European species. A key feature of the Asian hornet is its almost entirely dark abdomen, except for the fourth segment which is yellow.

The legs have bright yellow tips and an entirely brown or black thorax is another distinguishing feature.

Workers can be up to 25mm in length, with active months being between April and November.

BPCA suggests possible sightings are reported to the Asian Hornet Watch App.

Alternatively, members of the public can also log sightings to with a photo or on the Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat website.

Ms Ward-Thompson added: “The public can play a really important role in stopping populations of Asian hornets taking hold.

“By letting the necessary authorities know of any sightings, BPCA members can act promptly with the authorities to contain the issue as quickly and effectively as possible.

“Our members will do everything they can to maintain the health of our honey bee population and can be called upon to deal sensitively with any situation that arises.”