According to CNN, a dead gigantic hornet was discovered north of Seattle on Wednesday by researchers in Washington state, marking the first “murder hornet” encounter in the United States this year. This specific insect was observed “dried out” and had emerged earlier than usual, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, as male species don’t appear until at least July. Entomologists assume this hornet is from a previous season based on these facts, however, it has a different coloring than previously obtained specimens in the United States.
“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.”
Honeybees and native hornet species are threatened by the Asian giant hornet, an invading bug. These hornets, which are around 2 inches long, aren’t known to be hostile toward humans, but their agonizing sting can lead to death in rare situations. The hornets kill up to 50 people in Japan each year, according to the New York Times.
“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.”
The #AsianGiantHornet detected in Snohomish County had a different color form than those found in Whatcom County. See how they compare in the image below. Learn more at https://t.co/p4bsqukyX1 pic.twitter.com/Mgfh7RVxTo
— Washington State Department of Agriculture (@WSDAgov) June 16, 2021