Pest Alert: Asian giant hornet
|The Asian giant hornet found near the Canadian border in 2020.
Its enormous size and yellow head are unique to this invasive species.
In 2020, WSDA entomologists identified a large hornet found near the Canadian border as an Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia
), an invasive species not previously found in Washington State.
Although it is not typically aggressive toward humans, this unwelcome
pest can inflict a powerful sting and also represents a threat to honeybees, for which they have a voracious appetite.
On Dec. 8 2020, a resident in Blaine near the Canadian border reported an
unusually large hornet they found on their property. Two days later,
WSDA visited the site, collected the specimen, which was dead, and
confirmed its identity a short time later.
The resident also reported seeing a live giant hornet at a humming bird feeder before it retreated into a nearby forest.
WSDA and Washington State Department of Health (DOH) officials ask
people in the area to be on the lookout for and take precautions to
avoid contact with these large bugs.
|Adults can be nearly two inches long, have a distinctly light-orange head with prominent black eyes, a black thorax and a black/yellow striped abdomen.
The invasive hornets are typically almost an inch and a half long and are distinguished
by their large yellow heads.
Asian giant hornets nest in the ground. Though they are typically not
interested in humans, pets or large animals, they can inflict a nasty
sting if threatened or their nest is disturbed.
Asian giant hornets are typically dormant over the winter, and are most often seen from July through October.
DOH advises individuals to take preventative measures in the outdoors by
keeping food and drink covered or under screens, and cleaning up by
disposing food and garbage properly. People should avoid swatting at the
hornets, which may cause these insects to sting.
If you are stung, DOH recommends washing the site thoroughly with soap
and water and applying ice or a cold compress to reduce swelling. The
agency also recommends an antihistamine or use of an anti-itch cream to
reduce itching if necessary. If you are stung multiple times or have
symptoms of a severe reaction following a sting, call 911 or seek
medical care immediately.
|Asian giant hornets are not usually aggressive, but because of their size and stinger, it's best to avoid them.
Additional information about bee and wasp stings and prevention measures can be found on the DOH website
A threat to bees
Asian giant hornets feed on insects and are of particular concern to
beekeepers because they are capable of quickly destroying honeybee
This is the first time this invasive species has been detected in
Washington State. In August, a large colony of Asian giant hornets was
discovered and subsequently destroyed in British Columbia. The BC
Ministry of Agriculture
issued a pest alert
about the detection in September.
Responding to the Asian giant hornet
In 2020, WSDA will conduct outreach to generate public assistance in
looking out for the Asian giant hornet and reporting any detections to
the WSDA Pest Program.
Additionally, WSDA is preparing plans to set traps in the Blaine area to monitor for Asian giant hornets.
If you think you may have spotted an Asian giant hornet, report it to WSDA’s pest program
and, if possible, include a photo.