Entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture as well as the USDA have confirmed the first report of an Asian giant hornet for 2021. According to the WSDA the “murder hornet” was found in Snohomish County and appears to be unrelated to the 2019-2020 Asian giant hornet introductions in Canada and Whatcom County.
According to the Department, a resident found a deceased hornet near Marysville and submitted the report the evening of Friday, June 4th. Entomologists contacted them on Monday, June 7th. When WSDA retrieved the hornet on June 8th, the specimen was very dried out and they observed that it was a male hornet.
Being the first detection in Snohomish County and having different coloring than previously collected specimens in North America, the hornet was submitted to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for final verification.
On June 11th, WSDA and USDA APHIS entomologists confirmed that the collected specimen was Vespa mandarinia – also known as the Asian giant hornet. WSDA DNA testing and the color variation of the specimen indicate that the specimen appears to be unrelated to the Whatcom County or Canadian Asian giant hornet introductions.
Given the time of year, that it was a male, and that the specimen was exceptionally dry, entomologists believe that the specimen is an old hornet from a previous season that wasn’t discovered until now. New males usually don’t emerge until at least July. There is no obvious pathway for how the hornet got to Marysville.
“The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge,” said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine program. “Last year, the first males emerged in late July, which was earlier than expected. However, we will work with WSDA to survey the area to verify whether a population exists in Snohomish County. USDA will continue to provide technical expertise and monitor the situation in the state. USDA has already provided funding for survey and eradication activities as well as research into lures and population genetics.”
“This new report continues to underscore how important public reporting is for all suspected invasive species, but especially Asian giant hornet,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said.
“We’ll now be setting traps in the area and encouraging citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties. None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report.”
In 2020, half of the confirmed Asian giant hornet sightings in Washington and all of the confirmed sightings in Canada came from the public.
If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail [email protected]