First live Asian ‘murder hornet’ sighting of 2021 confirmed in Washington

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The first live Asian giant “murder hornet” sighting of 2021 was reported in the US state of Washington on August 12, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).

The report was submitted by a Whatcom County resident, and was investigated by WSDA entomologists.

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The report included a photograph of an Asian giant hornet attacking a paper wasp nest in a rural area east of Blaine, about 2 miles from where WSDA eradicated the first Asian giant hornet nest in the United States last October.

“This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year – attacking paper wasp nests,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said. “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.”

In response to this detection, WSDA is setting live traps in the area in an attempt to catch a live hornet, tag it, and track it back to the nest.

Public reports of Asian giant hornet sightings continue to be critical to locating the pest. In 2020, half of WSDA’s confirmed reports came from the public. This year there have only been two confirmed reports in Washington and both were from public reports.

While WSDA, cooperators, and the public have set Asian giant hornet traps throughout the state, there have not yet been any detections in traps this year.

Asian giant hornets are an invasive pest not native to the US. They are the world’s largest hornet and prey on honey bees and other insects. These hornets may attack honey bee hives in the late summer or early fall. A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.

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