MURDER WHAT?  ASIAN HORNET INVASION

The alarm has sounded, we are being invaded by an invasive, predatory insect species known as the Asian giant hornet, aka Murder Hornet.  It was first spotted and recorded in Whatcom County earlier this year.  This is close to all our readership and listenership in your own back yards.

With globalization and transportation, species of all kinds hitchhike rides to other parts of the world.  This leads to non-native plant, animal and insect species arriving to alter and impact the delicate, natural ecosystems that normally exist.  This particular bug is huge, mean, and nasty, and it preys predominantly on honeybee colonies threatening to decimate American honeybees vital to agriculture.

You will not easily confuse this with your average bumblebee, wasp, or ground hornet common to the Northwest.  This insect can grow up to 2” long. They are very distinctive in appearance and unfortunately are also being spotted on the East Coast of the US as they are versatile in habitat.

If you suspect you have seen one, please report it to: https://agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/hornets  If you do not have a dead insect or a picture, it will only be reported as a possible sighting.  That does not mean it was not one.  If you look at the interactive map, it will show the widespread sightings in our state.

Queens typically fly from their nests in the fall, the question is where they go, or if they return to the same spot.  The effort is to track these hornets, finds their nests and then destroy them before they propagate again.  Luckily, lower fall temperatures make them slower.  So, if you see one, please document it and send it to the link above.

While not known as aggressive to humans, there are reports of stings being fatal, especially for people who are allergic to insect stings, as their sting is much more potent than your average insect sting.  Approach, capture or document with extreme caution, especially in the fall, when flying queens might be more aggressive.

Marcee Maylin has a degree in Editorial Journalism from the University of Washington and 30+ years media experience.