Deadly mosquitoes are threatening the UK with a swarm of bugs travelling over from Europe, experts have warned.
Species such as the Asian tiger mosquito can spread dengue fever and chikungunya - a virus causing a fever of up to 40 degrees followed by joint pain that can last for years.
The bugs have already caused problems in Italy, France and southern Europe, but now have arrived in Kent.
The latest invasive mosquito to hit our shores is the culex modestus, which can spread the West Nile virus, a disease that causes serious flu-like symptoms that last several days.
In some serious cases, it can cause swelling of the brain and spinal cord.
Experts from Public Health England have been monitoring several locations in Kent, including service stations, ferry ports and the Eurotunnel terminal, hoping to spot the invasive insects before they spread.
Dr Jolyon Medlock, programme leader with Public Health England's Medical Entomology team, said: "One of the things we are looking at is the incursion of invasive mosquitoes which act as vectors for diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya.
"The number of cases is fairly low in Europe at the moment but with climate change and increased globalisation there is the potential for that to change."
If the mosquitos are spotted, Public Health England will work with local authorities to see if pest control measures are necessary.
Dr Medlock said that while it is difficult to tell exactly how invasive species make it to Britain, there are a number of potential entry routes.
The Asian tiger mosquitos are managing to get to Europe from south east Asia by laying eggs, which can survive dormant for up to 18 months, in tyres which are then exported.
Mosquitoes can also hitch rides on aeroplanes and in lorries and other vehicles stopping on the continent en-route to Britain.
The insects need water to reproduce and Dr Medlock said much can be done to minimise potential breeding sites.
He said: "One of the key strategies in Europe has been community participation in looking at their own houses and minimising potential aquatic habitats for mosquitoes - covering water butts and unblocking drains, things like that.
"There certainly would be a real effort required from communities to manage mosquitoes themselves."