The first sighting of a living "murder hornet," which was reported in Washington, was confirmed by the state's Department of Agriculture on Thursday.
A Whatcom County resident was able to take photos of the Asian giant hornet, which was seen attacking a paper wasp nest in a rural area east of the town of Blaine, which is approximately two miles away from where the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S. was eradicated last October, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). Scientists found roughly 500 live specimens, including nearly 200 queens, when destroying that nest.
"This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year — attacking paper wasp nests," said Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist. "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."
WSDA will now be setting live traps in the area in an attempt to catch a live hornet, tag it, and track it back to the nest but urges the public to report sightings of Asian giant hornets.
"In 2020, half of WSDA’s confirmed reports and all of Canada’s confirmed reports came from the public," WSDA said. "This year, there have only been two confirmed reports in Washington and both were from public reports; there have been no confirmed reports in B.C. While WSDA, cooperators, and the public have set Asian giant hornet traps throughout the state, there have not yet been any detections in traps in 2021."
In June, the first dead "murder hornet" of 2021 was discovered near Seattle by a resident near Marysville in Snohomish County. WSDA later confirmed the finding was a "dried out" deceased male.
"This is not a species we want to tolerate here in the United States," Spichiger said at the time, according to CBS News.
"The Asian giant hornet is not supposed to be here. We may not get them all, but we will get as many as we can," he added of eradication efforts.
Asian giant hornets are an invasive pest not native to the U.S., WSDA explained. They are considered to be the world’s largest hornet and although they can sometimes be lethal to humans, they pose more of a threat to honeybees and have the ability to destroy an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.
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