WSU report warns of Asian giant hornet spread if eradication not successful
If the Asian giant hornet population in Whatcom County is not stopped in its tracks by entomologists, scientists are predicting the invasive hornets could spread further south in Washington and even down the West Coast.
A new report by Washington State University researchers in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” says if the hornets are left unchecked, they could spread throughout Western Washington and Western Oregon in the next two decades. The article notes that the hornets fly up to about 70 miles per year.
The report also states that humans could accidentally carry the hornets to other parts of the world, noting that the climate in parts of the East Coast, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand could allow hornet populations to grow there. The hornets do best in mild, forested places that receive plenty of rain. They are not suited to hot, dry areas, such as deserts.
Asian giant hornets have been found at different locations throughout Whatcom County, as well as across the border in British Columbia, over the past year.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture is currently conducting an eradication program. The plan is to trap a live Asian giant hornet, follow it to locate its nest, and then destroy the nest.
Last month, state entomologist Sven-Erik Spichiger said the goal was to have this accomplished before the hornets’ fall mating season.
“Kind of the drop-dead date for me is October,” Spichiger said in a press conference. “We start to worry that they’re starting to produce breeding cast and that we have a very limited amount of time to locate the nest and stop them from kicking out new colonies for the next season.”
Asian giant hornets are native to Eastern Asia. Because of their size and predatory nature, they pose a threat to honey bees.
Though they are nicknamed “murder hornets,” they do not target humans. In rare cases, such as allergic reactions, their sting can be deadly.