Published: 09:00, 17 April 2014
Giant Asian hornets which have been blamed for the deaths of six people in France are heading to Kent, according to reports.
Experts believe the insects, whose sting can be fatal, are likely to enter Britain by flying across the Channel. Kent and other parts of the South East are at the highest risk.
The likelihood of them entering the UK has been highlighted in a report by the Government's Environmental Audit Committee, which says they could arrive "within days".
The report adds: "Some invasive species have direct human health effects. The Asian Hornet, which might soon arrive here, has killed six people in France."
The hornets are believed to have entered France in a shipment of Chinese pottery in 2004.
They have previously been blamed for the deaths of 28 people in China, including a mother and baby caught up in a swarm.
The British Beekeepers Association has warned: "Although it (the hornet) is not yet present in the UK, it is considered likely to arrive soon.
"The places it is most likely to be found are in southern parts of England or goods among which it could be accidentally imported such as soil with imported pot plants, cut flowers, fruit and timber.”
"The Asian Hornet, which might soon arrive here, has killed six people in France" - committee report
The hornets can administer a toxic sting which can cause death through kidney failure. It is distinguished by its yellow feet, can grow up to 3cm in length and have stingers in excess of 6mm.It preys on bees and wasps, sparking fears that it may harm honey and crop production.
More by this authorKentOnline reporter
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)