CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — The bad news: Washington had its first confirmed 2020 sighting of an Asian giant hornet.
The good news: Agricultural officials have confirmed the hornet was a mated queen, which means the rest of her colony will not survive now that she’s dead.
Asian giant hornets are an invasive species that could pose a threat to honeybee populations. They’ve been popularly referred to as “murder hornets,” but aren’t usually interested in humans (though you should try to avoid them since they do have a powerful sting). The first U.S. sighting was reported last fall in Blaine, Washington.
According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), the first 2020 sighting happened last week near Custer, a small town that’s close to the Canadian border. A resident was walking down the road on May 27, saw the dead insect, snapped a photo and reported it online. Entomologists collected the specimen and submitted it for laboratory testing the same day.
Tuesday afternoon, WSDA sent out a statement saying the United States Department of Agriculture confirmed the hornet was a queen and was mated.
“If she started a nest, it will not survive without her,” spokesperson Karla Salp wrote. “This is effectively one colony down for 2020!”
Finally, things are looking up.