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A sighting of an Asian hornet in the UK has been confirmed by the National Bee Unit with Brits urged to stay vigilant for nests.
Asian hornets, which are smaller than our native hornet, are known to be vicious and post a severe risk to honey bees in the UK.
The creatures are capable of decapitating and pulling the wings off of up to 50 bees a day before eating them.
The National Bee Unit confirmed the sighting in Gosport, Hampshire, on September 10.
It is the first confirmed UK sighting since October 2019, when two related nests were detected and destroyed near Christchurch, Dorset.
DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, asked people to stay alert and said they are "working at speed" to locate and investigate any nests.
Defra’s Chief Plant and Bee Health Officer Nicola Spence said: "By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.
"That’s why we are working at speed to locate and investigate any nests in the area following this confirmed sighting."
Ms Spence added: "While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.
"Please continue to look out for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online."
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DEFRA also said the hornets are not known to be aggressive unless their nests are disturbed and urged people to report any sightings.
They said: "It is important to take care not to approach or disturb a nest. Asian hornets are not generally aggressive towards people but an exception to this is when they perceive a threat to their nest.
"If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you should report this using the iPhone and Android app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or by using our online report form.
"Please include a photograph if you can safely obtain one."
- Asian Hornets
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