First live Asian giant hornet sighting confirmed in Washington in 2021

Aug 12, 2021, 2:42 PM | Updated: Aug 13, 2021, 1:12 pm
giant hornet...
The first live Asian giant hornet spotted in Washington in 2021. (Photo courtesy of WSDA)
(Photo courtesy of WSDA)

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has confirmed the first report of a live Asian giant hornet sighting in Washington in 2021.

State agencies ask residents to check backyards for invasive species

The report of the hornet was submitted by a resident of Whatcom County on Aug. 11, and included a photograph of it attacking a paper wasp nest in a rural area east of Blaine, about 2 miles from where the first U.S. nest was eradicated last October. Entomologists confirmed the report on Aug. 12.

“This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year – attacking paper wasp nests,” said Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist. “If you have paper wasp nests on your property and live in the area, keep an eye on them and report any Asian giant hornets you see. Note the direction they fly off to as well.”

Karla Salp, communications specialist with the Department of Agriculture, said that the sighting’s proximity to the spot where last year’s nest was located meant that the two could have been connected.

“It’s a possibility that it could have been from last year’s nest — a queen could have escaped and mated before we removed it,” Salp said. “It could be from a different nest.”

While this is the first sighting of 2021, she does not expect it to be the last — this is the prime time for hornets to emerge.

“It’s definitely the time of year, the season, when you would find especially workers in flight, so we would expect to see more Asian giant hornets popping up at this point in the year,” she said.

To that end, people in Whatcom and Skagit Counties are asked to help with the DIY trapping effort. To learn how to make your own trap, visit the Department of Agriculture’s website.

WSDA will now set live traps in the area in the hopes of catching a live hornet, and being able to tag it then track it back to its nest. The British Columbia government will likely set additional traps in the area since the report came from a spot just half a mile from the border.

State entomologists have been asking for the public’s help in spotting giant hornets, and say these sightings are critical to the effort. In 2020, half of WSDA’s confirmed reports and all of Canada’s confirmed reports came from the public. This year there have only been two confirmed reports in Washington and both were from public reports; there have been no confirmed reports in B.C.

WSDA, cooperators, and the public have set Asian giant hornet traps throughout the state, but there have not yet been any detections in traps in 2021.

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

Asian giant hornets are an invasive pest not native to the United States. They are the world’s largest hornet and prey on honey bees and other insects.

Report suspected hornet sightings on the WSDA’s website here.

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First live Asian giant hornet sighting confirmed in Washington in 2021