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Asian giant hornet trapping season begins in Washington State

While hundreds of traps have already been set around Whatcom County by citizens and government staff, any Asian giant hornets (AGH) in the area have not been expected to be active outside their underground colonies until July. As such, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) officials are hoping many more traps will go up now that the time has arrived. Workers in colonies start becoming active in July according to WSDA officials.

Although we invite anyone in Washington to participate in trapping, we are particularly interested in trapping information from Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Jefferson, and Clallam counties.

Washington State Department of Agriculture

Asian giant hornets, first confirmed to be in the area late last year and there have been a couple confirmed sightings this year, pose a threat to honeybees and other insects. And, while not aggressive toward humans, they can deliver a dangerous sting if they feel threatened. 

Hornet Watch Citizen Scientist Trap Locations Map (June 30, 2020). Source: WSDA

Citizen volunteers reporting trap results to WSDA can help limit the spread and even eradicate Asian giant hornets from Washington State, WSDA officials say.

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For trapping to be successful, officials say, those who participate will be required to:

  • log the traps on WSDA’s online mapping system
  • check the traps weekly for 17 weeks starting in July and continuing into the fall
  • submit trap contents each week if they contain a bee, hornet, or wasp of any kind or submit a photo of the trap contents if there does not appear to be a bee, wasp or hornet.

One trapper estimated the costs to mail the weekly specimens included the cost of the padded envelope plus $3.80 First-Class postage. WSDA officials say they are setting up drop off locations as an alternative to mailing the weekly submissions. A drop off location in Ferndale is located outside of Ferndale Portal Way Farm & Garden, located at 6100 Portal Way.

Traps used are made from a 2-liter or 64-ounce plastic bottles and targets Asian giant hornet workers in the summer and fall. This is the same trap used by the hornet program in Nagoya, Japan according to WSDA officials. They are baited using a specific blend of orange juice and rice cooking wine.

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Anyone interested in participating in WSDA’s AGH trapping program can get started now by clicking here.

In addition to setting and monitoring traps, Washington State citizens are also encouraged to report potential sightings of the AGH via the WSDA’s Hornet Watch report form. Photos are strongly encouraged to be submitted.

Asian giant hornets can be 2 inches long and have a distinct orange face with dark eyes. 

There are some relatively harmless native species that are frequently confused with AGH. They include:

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