Washington state captured its first Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) – better known as the “murder hornet.”
Government officials announced that they collected the murder hornet in a trap near Birch Bay on July 14.
“This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work,” managing entomologist of Washington’s Department of Agriculture, Sven Spichiger told CNN. “But it also means we have work to do.”
To capture the murder hornet, scientists look for nests by using infrared cameras. The specialty traps keep the hornets alive so they can later be examined, tagged, and tracked back to their original colony. Once entomologists find the colony, it will be destroyed.
Those who are interested in catching a murder hornet for themselves, a conventional trap will not work. The murder hornet is too large, although there are instructions on their website to create your own “citizen scientist trap.”
The Potential Infestation
Scientists are not sure how the murder hornets came to America. One theory is that they came over with a shipment or via travelers.
There could be an infestation and scientists are hoping to find the nest in Washington by mid-September. Next month is when the colony will be reproducing new queens and drones. As of now, five murder hornets have been sighted in Washington.
All About the Murder Hornet
The murder hornet is the world’s largest known species of the hornet. In December 2019, the first two sightings of the Asian giant hornet in America were verified near Blaine.
These are the first-ever sighting in the United States. Canada had also discovered Asian giant hornets in two locations in British Columbia in the fall of 2019. This year, both Washington and Canada have had new confirmed sightings and captures of the hornets.
The Asian Giant Hornets attack honeybees and their hives in mere hours. The hornets have a “slaughter phase” where they quite literally decapitate the bees. They can also attack other insects but the threat is extremely high for bees. They do not normally attack humans unprovoked. The difference between the murder hornet and honeybee is significant. The hornet’s stinger is significantly larger, the venom is more toxic, and it can sting repeatedly.