Asian hornets which prey on honeybees are feared to have spread to Devon, officials have confirmed.
The National Bee Unit said a hornet was spotted in Woolacombe and was destroying nests in the area.
The species could do serious damage to bee colonies according to the Environment Department (Defra).
It was first seen in the British Isles in Jersey last year and has also been seen in Tetbury, Gloucestershire and the Mendip Hills in North Somerset.
A hornet was spotted at an apiary, where hives are kept, in Woolacombe.
They are common across large areas of Europe and pose no risk to humans other than a bee-like sting but can wipe out colonies of bees.
Work to contain the Devon case includes:
- Setting up a surveillance zone around north Devon
- Deploying bee inspectors who use infrared cameras and traps to track hornets and locate any nests
- Readying disposal experts to use pesticides to kill the hornets and destroy the nests.
Nicola Spence, Defra deputy director for plant and bee health, said officials were taking "swift and robust action"
People can download a free Asian Hornet Watch app to report possible sightings and send pictures of suspect insects to experts at the National Bee Unit.