Swarms of vicious Asian hornets with a nasty sting in their tail are heading across the Channel from France to Britain, according to reports.
According to the Daily Mail, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) warns the hornets could spread over the UK throughout September.
A DEFRA statement said these "invasive and predatory" insects have "spread very quickly to many areas of France where it is reported to be causing many problems for both beekeepers and biodiversity in the country. The hornet can predate on bee colonies, causing significant harm."
The bee-eating invaders, which can grow up to 1.2 inches long, are a threat to UK wildlife - preying on wasps and other pollinators as well as honeybees - and perhaps even human health, warns a recent report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The Asian hornet - distinguishable by its dark colour and yellow feet - has already invaded France, almost wiping out its bee population and attacking humans.
It is thought the species arrived in south western France from the Far East in a shipment of Chinese pottery in late 2004.
They settled in the Aquitaine area, but spread rapidly along the waterways. Their arrival in Britain was predicted by Franck Muller of the Museum of National History in Paris back in February 2011, when he told the Daily Telegraph they would cross into Britain within "three to four years".
Over the past few years, several attacks on humans have been reported. In 2009, hundreds of the insects attacked a mother out walking with her five-month old baby in the Lot-et-Garonne department, before turning on a neighbour who ran over to help. They then pursued two passers-by and two Dutch tourists on bikes.
And, it seems, Asian hornets are not the only insects we will contend with in September. It seems wasps, which have been conspicuously absent over much of summer, will be back with a vengeance this month.
Matt Shardlow, of insect conservation trust Buglife, told The Sun: "This time of year the female workers, who have been busy raising the brood, run out of things to do as baby wasps reach full development.
"When this happens they get a taste for sugar and alcohol, bringing them into contact with people.
"Wasps should be treated with caution, particularly around their nests. Waft them away, don't swat. Wasps are belligerently defensive and if you annoy them then they will respond."
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