In early June, the Washington Department of Agriculture announced that the first Asian giant hornet of 2021 was discovered dead in Snohomish County. Managing Entomologist Sven Spichiger noted that the male insect was significantly different in its coloration as compared to specimens collected in 2019 and 2020.
“This specimen went through our full verification process, which is a three step process where we send the specimen to a regional laboratory with the USDA and then off to the national laboratory for that final confirmation. The final confirmation was received on Friday, [June] 11th. It was determined to be Vespa mandarinia, which of course is Asian giant hornet.”
Spichiger said the much darker “murder hornet” is likely from one of three countries in Southeast Asia, but a single dead specimen does not indicate a population. He noted the dried out hornet has probably been dead for a significant amount of time.
“It is our belief that this specimen is from 2020 or earlier. My honest opinion is … that it seemed to have died in a protected place and maybe fallen out and landed on the lawn there.”
Spichiger added new males usually don’t emerge until mid-July or later. He added, thanks to global trade, it is entirely possible for a single hornet to hitchhike half way around the world. WSDA has four teams dedicated to Asian giant hornet prevention. Officials plan to set roughly 1,200 traps across the state this year to monitor and growth or movement. As a precaution, WSDA also set up some traps in the spring. All of those traps came back with negative results.
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