They’re here. Again.
Asian giant hornets, colloquially known as murder hornets, are back in Washington state after a resident spotted a live insect, officials at the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) confirmed on Thursday.
The sighting occurred on August 11, near a rural area east of Blaine, in Whatcom County, Washington.
This is roughly two miles where the first Asian giant hornet nest, which contained 500 live specimens, including 200 queens, was eradicated in October 2020.
‘This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year – attacking paper wasp nests,’ Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said in a statement.
‘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. Note the direction they fly off to as well.’
The WSDA said it will set live traps in an attempt to catch a live hornet, tag it and track it back to the nest.
In addition, the British Columbia government will set traps in Canada, roughly a half mile from the US-Canada border.
The discovery of the live Asian giant hornet follows news earlier this summer that a dead male Asian hornet was found in Snohomish County, Washington.
A Marysville resident found and reported the dead bug on June 4 via the agency’s Hornet Watch Report Form.
Entomologists determined it was a male, but after they looked at its DNA and coloring, they believed it to be unrelated to the Whatcom County or Canadian murder hornets seen in 2019 and 2020.
The new finding highlights how important the public is to finding this invasive species, which can decimate entire hives of honeybees, which are already under siege from mites, diseases, pesticides and loss of food.
The Asian giant hornet, which has an extremely painful sting, is the world’s largest hornet at two inches.
In March, Washington state said it was making plans for the 2021 murder hornet season, similar to last year’s, emphasizing public outreach, reporting and trapping.
More than half of confirmed Asian giant hornet sightings in Washington and all in Canada came from the public, WSDA has previously stated.
The first confirmed detection of the hornet in the US was in December 2019 near Blaine and the first live hornet was trapped in July 2020.
The invasive insect is normally found in China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries.
‘The hornets enter a “slaughter phase” where they kill bees by decapitating them. They then defend the hive as their own, taking the brood to feed their own young,’ the WSDA has said previously.
The agency has already killed six or seven hives in Washington State.
Despite their nickname, the hornets kill at most a few dozen people a year in Asia, and experts say it is probably far less but they do deliver painful stings to humans.
Hornets, wasps and bees typically found in the US kill an average of 62 people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.