An Asian giant hornet, which is five times larger than a honeybee, has been spotted alive for the first time this year in Whatcom County in Washington state.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) stated that the sighting was reported by a resident on Wednesday. It was confirmed as an Asian giant hornet by entomologists on Thursday. This invasive insect is known as a “murder hornet” in much of the global press.
Apparently, agents captured an image of the hornet attacking a paper wasp nest in a rural area east of Blaine, which is only 2 miles from where the WSDA eradicated the first Asian Giant hornet nest in that county and in the USA, in October 2020.
WSDA Managing Entomologist Sven Spichiger said that in 2020 the hornets were observed to be attacking paper wasp nests. “If you have paper wasp nests on your property and live in the area, keep an eye on them and report any Asian giant hornets you see. Also, note the direction they fly off to,” said Spichiger.
This 2:22-minute video by Good Morning America reports on this first sighting in 2021:
WSDA officials intend to set traps near where the hornet was spotted this week and hope to catch one alive. If they catch one, officials will tag it and try to track it back to its nest. The WSDA said Canadian authorities in British Columbia will also set live traps because the area where the hornet was seen is just half a mile from the USA and Canada border.
WSDA officials stress the importance of public reports of any sightings. They are crucial to finding and eradicating the Asian giant hornets and their nests. In 2020, half of the WSDA’s confirmed reports and all of Canada’s confirmed reports came from the public.
The dead Asian giant hornet found near Seattle is the first one detected in the US this year. Asian giant hornets are invasive pests that are not native to the US. They prey on other insects, especially honeybees. A small group of hornets can wipe out a honeybee hive within hours. They are also deadly to humans, killing up to 50 people annually in Japan.
To read more about these deadly pests that are an enormous problem in many parts of Europe, please check our blog posts from 2020. Here is our post on the Asian giant hornets in Washington in 2020.
Although traps have been set throughout Washington state, no hornets have been caught yet this year. So far in 2021, there have only been 2 confirmed reports in Washington. Both reports came from local members of the community. There have not been any confirmed sightings in British Columbia yet.
The Asian giant hornet is native to Japan, South Korea, China, and a few other East Asian countries.