Scientists have found a dead Asian giant hornet north of Seattle, the first killer hornet found in the country this year, federal and state researchers said Wednesday.
Entomologists from the state and U.S. departments of agriculture said it’s the first confirmed report from Snohomish County, north of Seattle, and appears to be unrelated to the 2019 and 2020 findings of hornets in Canada and the county. from Whatcom, along the Canadian border, which became widespread. attention.
The 2-inch-long (5-cm-long) invasive insects, first found near the United States-Canada border in December 2019, are native to Asia and pose a threat to bees and native species. of wasps. While it is not particularly aggressive towards humans, its sting is extremely painful and repeated bites, although rare, can kill.
The world’s largest hornet is a far greater threat to the honey bees that are relied on to pollinate crops. They attack the hives, destroy them within hours, and decapitate the bees in what scientists call their “killing phase.” It is not clear how they got here from Asia.
In the latest sighting, a resident found the dead hornet near the city of Marysville and reported it on June 4 to the state Department of Agriculture. Entomologists contacted the person on June 7 and then recovered the dead hornet the next day. It was very dry and it turned out to be a male hornet.
Given the time of year, that it was a male, and that the specimen was exceptionally dry, entomologists believe it was an old hornet from a previous season that has not been discovered until now. New males usually don’t emerge until at least July.
There is no obvious way to know how the hornet got to Marysville, state officials said.
“The finding is puzzling because it is too early for a male to emerge,” said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator of the US Department of Agriculture quarantine program.
El-Lissy said the federal agency would work with state officials “to survey the area and verify if there is a population in Snohomish County.”
Because it was first found in that county and had a different color than previously collected specimens in North America, the hornet was sent to the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for final verification.
On June 11, entomologists confirmed that it was an Asian giant hornet. DNA testing indicated that the sample did not appear to be related to wasp introductions in Whatcom County or Canada.
“This new report continues to underscore the importance of public reporting for all suspected invasive species, but especially the Asian giant hornet,” said Sven Spichiger, an entomologist with the state department of agriculture who is leading the fight to eradicate hornets.
“We will now set traps in the area and encourage citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties,” Spichiger said. “None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to take a photo and submit a report.”
In 2020, half of the confirmed Asian giant wasp sightings in Washington and all confirmed sightings in Canada came from the public, authorities said.
The USDA has placed giant hornets on the quarantine pest list, giving Washington state more tools to help eradicate invasive species.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism