France faces an invasion of Chinese hornets that could hasten the decline of the honeybee population.
The wasps, known by their scientific name Vespa velutina, could also threaten bee-keepers’ livelihoods, researchers say.
They have spread rapidly in south-western France – a region popular with tourists – and could reach other European countries soon.
The 3cm-long insects are recognisable by their orange heads and yellow feet.
Researchers think they probably arrived in France on a boat carrying ceramic goods from China in 2004.
The most recent study recorded 1,100 nests across the country. The hornet is now firmly established near Bordeaux and has advanced as far north as parts of Brittany in north-western France.
Note: This article does not refer to the so called ‘Japanese Giant Hornet’ often mentioned in the press. That hornet is Vespa mandarinia and is confined to Japan and the Far East. Also many hornet species have orange/yellow on thier heads and feet including the European hornet Vespa crabro.