First 'Murder Hornet' Sighting of 2021 Reported in Washington State
Officials confirmed they have found a dead Asian giant hornet near Seattle, but have yet to determine if it's part of a new population or a previous one.
Image via Getty/Elaine Thompson/POOL/AFP
Have the terrifying “murder hornets” returned to the U.S.? Experts aren’t sure.
According to CNN, researchers in Washington state found a dead Asian giant hornet north of Seattle on Wednesday, marking the first “murder hornet” sighting in the U.S. this year. The Washington State Department of Agriculture said this particular insect was discovered “dried out” and had emerged earlier than usual, as male species aren’t spotted until at least July. These factors have led entomologists to believe this hornet was from a previous season, but noted it had different coloring than previously collected specimens in the U.S.
“I want to very much clarify that a single dead specimen does not indicate a population, and for that reason, we will be taking some extra precautions and getting traps up in the area,” said Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the WSDA. “But at this time, there is not enough evidence to support that a population exists in Snohomish County.”
The Asian giant hornet is an invasive insect that poses a huge threat to honeybees and native hornet species. These hornets, which typically measure about 2 inches long, aren’t known to be aggressive towards humans; but in rare cases, their painful sting can result in death. According to the New York Times, the hornets kill up to 50 people a year in Japan.
“This new report continues to underscore how important public reporting is for all suspected invasive species, but especially Asian giant hornet,” Spichiger added. “We’ll now be setting traps in the area and encouraging citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties. None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report.”