8:15 AM PDT, June 17, 2021
A resident of Marysville, Washington found an insect at the beginning of June that they believed to be the first “murder hornet” of the season and submitted a report to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
Because of the insect’s found location and unusual coloring, the WSDA submitted the specimen to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for further verification, according to CBS News.
Entomologists from the WSDA and the USDA verified in a statement that the dead critter was indeed the Vespa mandarinia, also known as the Asian giant hornet or the “murder hornet.”
The WSDA believes that the hornet could be from a previous season rather than this upcoming season, according to their statement.
“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,” the statement said. “New males usually don’t emerge until at least July. There is no obvious pathway for how the hornet got to Marysville.”
While the biggest threat is to the bees, which are directly connected to the U.S. and Canada’s agricultural productivity, stings from these “murder hornets” are very painful to humans and can cause death.
“The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge,” Dr. Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator for the USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine program, said in the statement. “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.”
The WSDA urged the Washington community to continue to report sightings, as a majority of the findings from 2020 were based on public reports.
“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 in the statement. “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.”