THIS is a European hornet, a 4cm long super wasp that’s made its presence felt in Gwent in recent days.

The Argus received a number of reports of these pests, who have paid a visit to homes in Pontypool and Newport this week.

The species will sting in response to being stepped on or grabbed, and the pain may persist for several days.

Generally, though, hornets avoid conflict and they primarily eat large insects: wasps, large moths, and large bees.

The European hornet can easily be confused with its larger Asian cousin, which arrived in France last summer with its venomous sting.

The Asian hornet is the only hornet or wasp with an entirely dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band.

Although it is not yet present in the UK, it has been predicted to arrive soon in the southern parts of England by the British Beekeepers' Association.

Speaking about the differences between the two species, Andrew Knapp, swarm liaison officer at the Gwent South Beekeepers’ Association, said: “There are a number of physical differences but the main one is that there is only one yellow band on the abdomen of the Asian hornet when compared to the European hornet, which is native to the UK.

“In my experience, this year has been exceptional for hornet and wasp activity so it doesn't surprise me that more people are noticing them.”

Ken Key, another swarm liaison officer at the Gwent Beekeepers’ Association, said he had never experienced dealing with European hornets or Asian hornets before.

He said: “They’re not nice things. I’m not quite sure what the solution is there, I’ve never experienced any. I’m surprised they’re here.

“Wasps are the smaller versions and the threats to bees in the summers. That’s why we put entrance holes so the bees can defend the hives from predators.

“A weak colony can be taken over quite easily.”