OLYMPIA, Wash. – Entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have confirmed the first report of an Asian giant hornet for 2021. This is the first confirmed report from Snohomish County and appears to be unrelated to the 2019/2020 Asian giant hornet introductions in Canada and Whatcom County.
A resident found a deceased hornet near Marysville and submitted the report the evening of Friday, June 4 on WSDA’s online Hornet Watch Report Form. Entomologists contacted them on Monday, June 7. When WSDA retrieved the hornet on June 8, the specimen was very dried out and they observed that it was a male hornet.
Being the first detection in Snohomish County and having different coloring than previously collected specimens in North America, the hornet was submitted to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) for final verification.
On June 11, WSDA and USDA APHIS entomologists confirmed that the collected specimen was Vespa mandarinia – also known as the Asian giant hornet. WSDA DNA testing and the color variation of the specimen indicate that the specimen appears to be unrelated to the Whatcom County or Canadian Asian giant hornet introductions.
Given the time of year, that it was a male, and that the specimen was exceptionally dry, entomologists believe that the specimen is an old hornet from a previous season that wasn’t discovered until now. New males usually don’t emerge until at least July. There is no obvious pathway for how the hornet got to Marysville.
“The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge,” said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine program. “Last year, the first males emerged in late July, which was earlier than expected. However, we will work with WSDA to survey the area to verify whether a population exists in Snohomish County. USDA will continue to provide technical expertise and monitor the situation in the state. USDA has already provided funding for survey and eradication activities as well as research into lures and population genetics.”
“This new report continues to underscore how important public reporting is for all suspected invasive species, but especially Asian giant hornet,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said.
“We’ll now be setting traps in the area and encouraging citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties. None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report.”
In 2020, half of the confirmed Asian giant hornet sightings in Washington and all of the confirmed sightings in Canada came from the public. Every suspected sighting in Washington State should be reported to the Washington State Department of Agriculture online at agr.wa.gov/hornets, by emailing email@example.com, or calling 1-800-443-6684. Suspected sightings in other areas should be reported to the state or province where it suspected hornet was observed.
— Washington State Department of Agriculture
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