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Asian giant hornets
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It’s Asian giant hornet trapping season and you can help

Eli Ocheltree of the SnoKing Beekeepers Association shows off the Asian giant hornet traps she is making for nearby residents. (Photo courtesy of SnoKing Beekeepers Association)

July means the start of Asian giant hornet trapping season.

A large part of trapping the hornets comes not just from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, but also citizen scientists. Last year, half of the state’s Asian giant hornet sightings were from ordinary citizens.

That’s why the Sno-King Beekeepers Association is making 30 do-it-yourself traps and distributing them in Marysville and Maltby.

The traps are made by cutting an opening into a plastic juice bottle so the hornet can get in, and then filling the bottle with bait, which is four ounces each of orange juice and rice wine. The traps hang on a tree. Trappers must empty the bottle’s contents each week to see if they caught anything.

Trapping is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a 22-week commitment and each week you must check the contents of your trap, dump it out, refill it, and log your findings with the Department of Agriculture’s app. For kids, it’s a great way to learn science hands-on.

If you see what you suspect is an Asian giant hornet in the trap, keep your distance, and contact the Department of Agriculture’s hotline at 1-800-443-6684.

Eli Ocheltree, a director of the Sno-King Beekeepers Association, says the hope is that they will find nothing all summer and autumn. That would mean the hornets have not spread south from Whatcom County.

“Zeros are good data values in this state,” Ocheltree said. “We want lots of zeros. We want to know that it is not in any of our counties down here — King and Snohomish.”

For beekeepers like Ocheltree, the hornets are a huge threat because they can decimate honeybee hives.

“They could wipe out a hive in hours, apparently,” she said.

To see a trap-making demo or sign up as one of the citizen scientists, visit the Department of Agriculture’s website.

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