First ‘murder hornet’ captured by Wash. entomologists in plan to stop species’ spread

Published: Aug. 2, 2020 at 6:06 AM CDT
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BIRCH BAY, Wash. (Gray News) - Entomologists in Washington have accomplished the first step in a plan to stop the invasive Asian giant hornet from spreading across the state.

The first Asian giant hornet, popularly known as the “murder hornet,” has been captured in Washington state. The hornet was found dead July 14 in a trap near Birch Bay, not far from where the initial sightings were in Blaine.

“Our initial feeling is that this is a worker hornet. Our response to this will be to inundate the area immediately surrounding that positive trap capture with additional traps that are designed to capture the hornets alive,” said Sven Spichiger, the managing entomologist for the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

The WSDA will now search for Asian giant hornet nests using infrared cameras and place additional traps intended to capture live hornets in an attempt to tag and track them back to the colony. Once located, the agency will eradicate the colony.

“This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work,” Spichiger said. “But it also means we have work to do.”

The WSDA hopes to find and destroy the nest by mid-September, which is when the colony would begin creating new reproducing queens and drones.

There have been five confirmed sightings in Washington of the hornets, which are capable of killing off entire honeybee colonies, small animals and, in rare cases, humans. It’s unknown how the invasive species made it to the United States, but the long-standing belief is that they came with cargo from overseas.

Copyright 2020 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved KIRO contributed to this report via CNN.