First ‘murder hornet’ sighting of 2020 confirmed in Washington


The hornet was discovered near the Canadian border

In this Dec. 30, 2019, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a dead Asian giant hornet is photographed in a lab in Olympia, Wash. The world’s largest hornet, a 2-inch long killer with an appetite for honey bees, has been found in Washington state and entomologists are making plans to wipe it out. Dubbed the “Murder Hornet” by some, the Asian giant hornet has a sting that could be fatal to some humans. It is just now starting to emerge from hibernation. (Quinlyn Baine/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

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.

The dead Asian giant hornet found May 27 near Custer, Washington (courtesy Joel Nielsen via WSDA)

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.

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