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First Live ‘Murder Hornet’ of 2021 Sighted in Washington

Credit: Unsplash

2020 was home to so many absolutely awful happenings, it’s honestly kind of hard to remember all of them. One that you may have forgotten about was the discovery of “murder hornets” in Washington state. The “murder hornets,” also known as the Asian giant hornet, are a species of hornet native to Asian countries known for their vicious and destructive natures, and their presence as an invasive species in the US could be potentially damaging to the local ecosystem. Not only is the sting of an Asian giant hornet particularly painful to humans, but they have a tendency to seek and destroy honeybee nests, which could further devastate the already dwindling honeybee population. I would say “thankfully, no live murder hornets have been spotted this year,” but as of this week, that’s no longer true.

On Wednesday, a Whatcom County resident reported a sighting of an especially large hornet attacking a paper wasp nest on their property. Entomologists from the Washington state Department of Agriculture checked it out, and sure enough, it was a genuine murder hornet, alive and murderous. The spot where this sighting occurred is about two miles from the site where DoA workers destroyed a murder wasp nest way back in October.

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

So far, this is only the second sighting of a murder hornet this year, with the first sighting being of an already-dead specimen in Marysville. DoA workers are setting traps near where the live specimen was sighted in the hopes of tracking down any new nests.

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