Authorities in Washington reported the first sighting of a live Asian giant hornet, otherwise known as a “murder hornet,” in the United States in 2021.
Following a report submitted by a Whatcom County resident on August 11, which included a photo of an Asian giant hornet attacking a paper wasp nest, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) confirmed the existence of the live hornet the following day. The discovery was made in a rural area east of Blaine, just two miles from where the WSDA previously destroyed the first murder hornet nest in the United States in October.
— Washington State Department of Agriculture (@WSDAgov) August 12, 2021
“This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year – attacking paper wasp nests,” said Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist at the WSDA, 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.”
In light of the detection, the WSDA have caught and tagged two live Asian giant hornets via traps set in the area, though they have not been able to locate the nest yet. The radio tags will remain active for approximately two weeks.
The 5-centimeter-long insect — first discovered in the United States in 2019 — is deemed an invasive species known for attacking beehives for protein. Murder hornets will only attack humans and pets when threatened, but their sting is highly toxic and can leave a scar.