A live murder hornet has shown up in Washington state in the second sighting of the year. It was seen attacking a paper wasp nest in Washington’s Whatcom County.
A resident of the county reported the sighting on Aug. 11. Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) entomologists confirmed it the next day.
The wasp nest attacked by the hornet was about 2 miles from the spot where the WSDA wiped out the first murder hornet nest in the U.S. last October, raising the possibility that some murder hornets escaped. The WSDA said in a statement that the murder hornet was found in a remote area east of Blaine, Washington.
WSDA workers will leave live traps in the area so as to catch the hornet alive, tag it and follow it back to its nest. Because the murder hornet was sighted about half a mile from the Canadian border, British Columbia officials will also begin setting traps on Canadian soil.
Murder Hornet Sightings Key to Wiping Out Invasive Species
Murder hornets are not native to the U.S. Also known as Asian giant hornets, they are an invasive pest that preys on honey bees. They go after the honey bee hives in late summer to early fall, and a small group of them can eradicate the entire hive in a few hours.
Honey bees are a vital part of the U.S. ecosystem. Beyond the production of honey, they are also key pollinators. Over a third of all crop species in this country rely on honeybees for pollination, per World Atlas. That includes apples, almonds and avocados. In fact, honeybee pollination is estimated to be responsible for over $15 billion worth of crops in the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises people who have spotted a murder hornet to calmly leave the area. According to the USDA, murder hornets have so far only shown up in Washington and Canada, and they are subject to active quarantine measures there.
Meanwhile, the WSDA stressed that it depends on the public to beat back the murder hornet invasion here. Last year, half of the confirmed reports in Washington and all of the confirmed reports in Canada came from tips from members of the public.
This year, there have been two confirmed sightings in Washington and none in Canada. So far, none of the traps set throughout the region have caught a murder hornet.