BEEKEEPERS are back on high alert after another Asian hornet was spotted in the New Forest.
The invasive insect, which attacks native honey bees and other pollinating creatures, was reported in New Milton by a member of the public.
After investigation by the National Bee Unit it was later thought likely to have been a queen. Monitoring is now underway in the area with beekeepers urged to keep their eye peeled.
The sighting is the second in less than a year in the New Forest after a tiny electronic tracking device was used to find and destroy a nest in Brockenhurst in September 2018.
Beekeeping is popular in the area, with the New Forest and District Beekeepers’ Association one of the biggest in England with about 200 members.
Nicola Spence, Defra deputy director for plant and bee health, 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 New Milton area following this confirmed sighting.
“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, 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.”
The Asian hornet is smaller than the UK’s native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee.
However, as well as preying on bees their threatening presence can also deter them from flying out of their hives for honey-making, costing beekeepers valuable yield.
Asian hornets have yellow-tipped legs with a dark brown or black velvety body and a yellow or orange band on the fourth segment of abdomen.
The insect is native to China but arrived in Europe in 2004 and is now widespread in parts of France, Spain, the Channel Islands and Portugal.
The New Milton Asian hornet is the first confirmed sighting in the UK since October 2018 when one was spotted in Dungeness, Kent.
To report a sighting email email@example.com or use the iPhone and Android app Asian Hornet Watch. Information should include location, date and number of Asian hornets, plus a photo if possible.
To find out more visit www.nationalbeeunit.com.