First male ‘murder hornet’ found in US as deadly killers spark wipeout mission

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An Asian giant hornet has been discovered in the US – the first male of the species to be found in the country.

Asian giant hornets are the biggest species of hornets in the world, and can grow to be two inches in size – twice the size of native bees.

Dubbed “murder hornets”, the species give a sting that is so dangerous it can be fatal and experts have warned people not to approach nests.

And now, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has confirmed it caught a male Asian giant hornet in a bottle trap near Custer, Whatcom County, where a mated queen was found dead earlier this year and a suspected bee kill was reported in 2019.

The trap was collected on July 29 and processed in WSDA’s entomology lab on August 13.

The WSDA has said it will now be setting live traps in the area in an attempt to trap a live Asian giant hornet, tag it, and track it back to its nest.

If WSDA is able to locate a nest, the agency will eradicate it.

“Trapping a male Asian giant hornet in July initially came as a surprise,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said. “But further examination of the research and consultation with international experts confirmed that a few males can indeed emerge early in the season.”

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Because Asian giant hornet workers increase as a colony develops, they are most likely seen in August and September.

This is the second Asian giant hornet caught in a WSDA trap. The first was caught on July 14.

Entomologists from the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service subsequently identified that hornet as an unmated queen.

The two trapped specimens bring the total number of Asian giant hornets detected in the state to seven – all of them in Whatcom County.

In addition to the traps that WSDA has set to catch Asian giant hornets, citizen scientists and other cooperators have placed more than 1,400 traps throughout the state.

Those interested in trapping can still build and set traps on their own property. Traps require weekly bait replacement and a commitment to mail the trap contents to WSDA if bees or wasps are collected.

If a citizen scientist traps a live Asian giant hornet, they should call the WSDA Pest Program hotline at 1-800-443-6684.

Anyone in the US who thinks they have seen an Asian giant hornet can report it at agr.wa.gov/hornets.

  • Asian Giant Hornets

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