Earlier this month, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) entomologists identified a large hornet found in Blaine as an Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia). This is, according to WSDA entomologists, an invasive species not previously found in Washington State.
While not typically aggressive toward humans, Asian giant hornets can inflict a powerful sting. But perhaps most concerning is their “voracious appetite” for honeybees according to a December 19th WSDA announcement.
On Dec. 8, a resident in Blaine near the Canadian border reported an unusually large hornet they found on their property. Two days later, WSDA visited the site, collected the specimen, which was dead, and confirmed its identity a short time later. The resident also reported seeing a live giant hornet at a humming bird feeder before it retreated into a nearby forest.WSDA announcement
The invasive hornets are almost an inch and a half long and distinguishable by their noticeably large orange heads and prominent black eyes.
A colony was discovered on Vancouver Island in September. According to a story by Nanaimo News Now, the colony’s nest was located near Nanaimo, contained an estimated 150 Asian giant hornets and was destroyed. This discovery followed a report of Asian giant hornet sightings in the same area in August.
The WSDA announcement noted, “Asian giant hornets feed on insects and are of particular concern to beekeepers because they are capable of quickly destroying honeybee hives.”
Asian giant hornets nest in the ground according to the WSDA. “They are typically not interested in humans, pets or large animals but can inflict a nasty sting if threatened or their nest is disturbed.”
Asian giant hornets usually remain dormant over the winter and are most frequently observed between July and October.
WSDA and Washington State Department of Health (DOH) officials advise people to be on the lookout for and take precautions to avoid contact with these hornets.
WSDA officials say they are planning to set traps in the Blaine area to monitor for other Asian giant hornets. An outreach campaign will begin in 2020 seeking public assistance in looking out for and reporting any sightings of the invasive pest to the WSDA Pest Program.