Published: 10:03, 18 September 2019
| Updated: 10:24, 18 September 2019
An Asian hornet nest has not been located more than a week after an initial sighting was reported in Ashford.
Bee inspectors launched an investigation into the whereabouts of a nest belonging to the invasive insect, after one was spotted south west of the town on Monday, September 9.
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Since the hornet, which is native to China, first landed in the UK in 2016 - 16 sightings have been confirmed and seven nests have been destroyed.
The venomous specie poses a major threat to pollinators, particularly in Kent as many of the country's rarest bumblebees are found here.
Local experts have told Kent Online the failure to locate a nest could mean this is an isolated case.
Navin Nauth-Misir, who is the chairman of Ashford Beekeepers Association, said: "I spoke with the regional bee inspector yesterday and they have not located a nest so it may be an isolated individual that has hitched a ride with some cargo.
"The inspector’s advice was for beekeepers to observe their hives for up to two hours to look out for Asian hornets “hawking” and for the public to observe any Ivy that is flowering for extended periods as the Asian hornet likes to feed on it.
"Members of Ashford beekeepers have responded to potential sightings and given advice on what to look for. People should stay alert and report any potential sightings."
The main area of concern is from south Ashford towards Dungeness, where two male hornets were spotted last year.
Residents are being urged to report any further sightings of the insect - which is slightly smaller than the native hornet and has several distinctive features.
Asian hornets are likely to be found on ripe fruit and flowering ivy. It is also thought that nests concealed in trees will emerge as leaves shred from trees in the autumn months.
According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), there have been reports of Asian hornets becoming aggressive in other countries if their nests are disturbed.
The sting of an Asian hornet contains an alarm pheromone, and other hornets from the nest may follow the pheromone and also try to sting the victim.
"We are living in a climate that is becoming milder and you can expect to start seeing them in the next few years" - Martin Rose-King
Multiple stings by non-European hornets may be fatal due to their highly toxic venom.
Because of this, the government is warning people not to remove nests, as this should only be done by experts.
Martin Rose-King, director at Bounty Consultancy Services in Ellingham Industrial Estate, added: "When a hornet is found, the bee inspector will go out and lay traps near to where it is found and they will go back and check them.
"It's a good sign if no hornets have been picked up in these traps. This could mean that it was a one off hornet, that has come from someone who has been on holiday by travelling in their luggage.
"In Dungeness last year, a hornet was found but no nest was located. This suggests that it may have come over through cross channel winds.
"The real issue is the danger to our wildlife as the Asian hornet is a predator to our honeybees.
"Asian hornets like to nest in hedges so people working in the agricultural industry need to be aware, as they could disturb the nest and get stung.
"We are living in a climate that is becoming milder and you can expect to start seeing them in the next few years."
Download the free Asian Hornet Watch app on your Apple or Android device to report a sighting or send a photograph and location to email@example.com