Asian giant hornet

The Washington State Department of Agriculture has reported that an Asian giant hornet was found in Snohomish County, about 35 miles north of Seattle. The world’s largest wasps, they are destructive to honeybee colonies and can even kill a human, though it’s rare.

An Asian giant hornet has been found in Snohomish County, Washington, south of where it was previously detected. It is apparently a separate introduction of the dangerous wasp to the U.S., state and federal officials said Wednesday.

A person reported finding the dead hornet near Marysville, about 35 miles north of Seattle, to the state Department of Agriculture on June 4. The department picked up the dried-out, male specimen on June 8.

Entomologists with the state and U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the specimen was an Asian giant hornet on June 11. The find wasn’t announced by the government until nearly a week later.

DNA testing and the color of the hornet suggest it was unrelated to specimens found in Whatcom County and British Columbia to the north in 2019 and 2020, entomologists said.

Given the time of year and the hornet’s sex, entomologists believe the specimen was from last year and wasn’t discovered until now, according to the state agriculture department.

Male hornets usually don’t begin emerging until July.

“This new report continues to underscore how important public reporting is for all suspected invasive species, but especially Asian giant hornet,” state agriculture department entomologist Sven Spichiger said in a statement.

“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,” he said.

Suspected sightings can be reported online at agr.wa.gov/hornets, by email at hornets@agr.wa.gov or by calling 1-800-443-6684.

Asian giant hornets, the world’s largest wasps, attack honeybees and other pollinators. The Washington state agriculture department found and eradicated one nest last year in Whatcom County.

The nest was more than 70 miles north of Marysville. The state agriculture department said there was no obvious way for hornets in Whatcom County to reach Snohomish County, skipping over Skagit County.

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