RESIDENTS have been urged to remain vigilant after an invasive hornet species was spotted near Essex.

An Asian hornet was found and captured in Romford last month, records published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on Monday revealed.

It follows the destruction of an Asian hornet nest found in Southend last year.

More than 70 sightings of Asian hornets have been confirmed in the UK since 2016, two of which have been this year.

Sightings are only confirmed after a Defra-approved laboratory analyses a specimen with a positive outcome.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Species - an Asian hornetSpecies - an Asian hornet (Image: Jean Haxaire)

The Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) says it is important to report suspected sightings as soon as possible.

What is an Asian hornet?

According to the NNSS, the Asian hornet is "a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, which can cause significant losses to bee colonies, and potentially other native species".

The species first arrived in France in 2004 where it spread rapidly, and several sightings have been confirmed in the UK since.

Asian hornets are mostly active between April and November, though their peak is in August and September.

The NNSS says residents in the south of England and Wales should be particularly vigilant, but warns that active hornets' nests should not be disturbed or provoked "under any circumstances".

How to report an Asian hornet sighting

Suspected sightings of Asian hornets can be reported on the Asian Hornet Watch app on iOS and Android.

Reports can also be made at or by emailing including a photograph and location details.