State works to eradicate Asian giant hornets invading Washington

PULLMAN, Wash.– Scientists at Washington State University (WSU) are helping inform people about a new invasive species recently spotted in Washington that the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is working to eradicate.

Murder Hornet

Courtesy Washington State Department of Agriculture

The Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, is the world’s largest hornet. It can grow up to 2 inches in length, according to researchers. Associate Professor at WSU Extension Dr. Tim Lawrence warned that the sting really hurts people, too.

“They can sting multiple times, like a Yellow Jacket. They can repeatedly sting you over and over again,” Dr. Lawrence said.

That’s just one reason Dr. Lawrence and other specialists with WSU are spreading the word about these pests.

They’re a danger to people and they have an appetite for honeybees.

“Twenty to 30 hornets can wipe out a colony of 30,000 to 50,000 honeybees within a few hours,” Dr. Lawrence said.

That’s where the nickname murder hornets came from, which has spread quickly across the internet.

“I wish they hadn’t used the term murder hornet,” Dr. Lawrence said. “It’s a large aggressive hornet that we need to deal with.”

These invasive creatures threaten an already struggling bee population that’s responsible for pollinating the crops people grow and eat.

That’s why experts were so concerned when two of the hornets were discovered late last year near Blaine, Washington.

Researchers still don’t know exactly how the hornets came to the U.S. or how widespread they are in Washington, but they do know the pests need to be eradicated quickly.

“The best scenario is we wipe it out before it gets established,” Dr. Lawrence said.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture is asking people to keep an eye out for the hornets and report any sightings in Washington State. You can do that online, by emailing pestprogram@agr.wa.gov, by calling 1-800-443-6684 or by using the free WA Invasives app.

Here is what to include with your report, if possible:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The location of the sighting/attack
  • Date of sighting/attack
  • Photograph of the hornet or damage
  • Description of the hive loss/damage (if no photo is available)
  • Direction the hornet(s) flew when flying away

The WSDA has also posted a webinar about the Asian giant hornet.

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