First live murder hornet of 2021 found in Washington

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A Washington State Department of Agriculture workers holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree on October 24, 2020

Their return really stings.

The first live Asian giant hornet of 2021 has been spotted in Washington state.

A resident snapped a photo of the so-called “murder hornet” attacking a wasp’s nest in Blaine, just south of the Canadian border, on Wednesday, Washington officials say.

It was just two miles away from where officials destroyed the first ever murder hornet’s nest found in the United States last October.

“This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year – attacking paper wasp nests,” said Sven Spichiger, a managing entomologist with the state department of agriculture.

A resident found a dead hornet just north of Seattle in June but officials later determined the dried-out old male hornet appeared to be from a previous season. 

A Washington State Department of Agriculture workers holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree on October 24, 2020
Asian giant hornets can grow up to 2 inches long.
ELAINE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The insects – deemed an “invasive pest” – are known to decimate hives of honeybees that pollinate crops. A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.

Hornets, which can grow up to 2 inches long, are not particularly aggressive toward people but their stings are extremely painful and can be deadly.

Following the latest sighting, traps have now been set up in the area to try and catch a live one so officials can tag it and eventually track it back to its nest.

Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney eyes a trap he retrieved, set in an effort to locate the Asian giant hornet.
Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney eyes a trap he retrieved, set in an effort to locate the Asian giant hornet.
ELAINE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Given the close proximity to the Canadian border, officials there are also setting traps.

“If you have paper wasp nests on your property and live in the area, keep an eye on them and report any Asian giant hornets you see. Note the direction they fly off to as well,” Spichiger said.

The first hornet nest discovered in Washington last October contained about 500 live specimens, including nearly 200 queens.

Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture's managing entomologist says the hornets are “exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year – attacking paper wasp nests.”
Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture’s managing entomologist says the hornets are “exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year – attacking paper wasp nests.”
POOL/AELAINE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesFP via Getty Images

Scientists destroyed the basketball-sized nest soon after it was found.

Of the nearly 200 queens discovered – almost 76 were grown virgins, which have the potential to leave, mate and then start their own nests, officials said at the time.

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