OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has confirmed the first report of a live Asian giant hornet sighting in Washington in 2021.
The report was submitted by a Whatcom County resident on Aug. 11. WSDA entomologists reviewed and confirmed the report as an Asian giant hornet on Aug. 12. 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 will be setting live traps in the area in an attempt to catch a live hornet, tag it, and track it back to the nest. The British Columbia government will likewise be setting additional traps in Canada as this detection was approximately half a mile from the U.S./Canadian border.
Public reports of Asian giant hornet sightings continue to be critical to locating the pest. In 2020, half of WSDA’s confirmed reports and all of Canada’s confirmed reports came from the public. 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.
Asian giant hornets are an invasive pest not native to the U.S. 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.
Visiting WSDA’s website at agr.wa.gov/hornets is the best way to report suspected hornet sightings. The online reporting form allows you to upload photos as well as to indicate on a map where the sighting occurred. Alternatively, sightings can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or can be reported at 1-800-443-6684.
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