In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, dead Asian giant hornets sit on a researcher’s field notebook in Blaine. 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. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, dead Asian giant hornets sit on a researcher’s field notebook in Blaine. 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. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

‘Murder Hornets,’ with sting that can kill, land in the state

Insects most destructive in the late summer, early fall

  • Associated Press
  • Monday, May 4, 2020 8:23pm
  • Life

By Nicholas K. Geranios | Associated Press

SPOKANE — The world’s largest hornet, a 2-inch killer dubbed the “Murder Hornet” with an appetite for honey bees, has been found in Washington state, where entomologists were making plans to wipe it out.

The giant Asian insect, with a sting that could be fatal to some humans, is just now starting to emerge from winter hibernation.

“They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” said Susan Cobey, a bee breeder at Washington State University.

“It’s a shockingly large hornet,” said Todd Murray, a WSU Extension entomologist and invasive species specialist. “It’s a health hazard and, more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees.”

In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Chris Looney, a Washington State entomologist, places a trap used to search for the Asian giant hornet in Blaine. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Chris Looney, a Washington State entomologist, places a trap used to search for the Asian giant hornet in Blaine. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

The hornet was sighted for the first time in the U.S. last December, when the state Department of Agriculture verified two reports near Blaine, Wash., close to the Canadian border. It also received two probable, but unconfirmed reports from sites in Custer, Wash., south of Blaine.

The hornet can sting through most beekeeper suits, deliver nearly seven times the amount of venom as a honey bee and sting multiple times, the department said, adding that it ordered special reinforced suits from China.

The university said it isn’t known how or where the hornets arrived in North America. It normally lives in the forests and low mountains of eastern and southeast Asia and feeds on large insects, including wasps and bees. It was dubbed the “Murder Hornet” in Japan, where it is known to kill people.

In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a researcher holds a dead Asian giant hornet in Blaine. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a researcher holds a dead Asian giant hornet in Blaine. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

The hornet’s life cycle begins in April, when queens emerge from hibernation, feed on plant sap and fruit, and look for underground dens to build their nests. Hornets are most destructive in the late summer and early fall. Like a marauding army, they attack honey bee hives, killing adult bees and devouring larvae and pupae, WSU said.

Their stings are big and painful, with a potent neurotoxin. Multiple stings can kill humans, even if they are not allergic, the university said.

Farmers depend on honey bees to pollinate many important northwest crops such as apples, blueberries and cherries. With the threat from giant hornets, “beekeepers may be reluctant to bring their hives here,” said Island County Extension scientist Tim Lawrence.

An invasive species can dramatically change growing conditions, Murray said, adding that now is the time to deal with the predators.

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. (Quinlyn Baine/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

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. (Quinlyn Baine/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

“We need to teach people how to recognize and identify this hornet while populations are small, so that we can eradicate it while we still have a chance,” Murray said.

The state Department of Agriculture will begin trapping queens this spring, with a focus on Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan and Island counties.

Hunting the hornets is no job for ordinary people.

“Don’t try to take them out yourself if you see them,” Looney said. “If you get into them, run away, then call us!

More in Life

Knot-tying classes scheduled at North Olympic Library branches

The North Olympic Library System’s Summer Reading Program will… Continue reading

Skwim Toastmaster champions to coach others via Zoom

Skwim toastmasters Kyle Hall and Lindy MacLaine will assist district… Continue reading

Sue Boyd of Vancouver, B.C., explores a backyard garden at 806 E. Sixth St., in Port Angeles on Saturday, one of six locations featured in the 27th annual Petals & Pathways Home Garden Tour. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Taking in the glory of Petals & Pathways Garden Tour

B.J. Bjork of Gig Harbor, right, talks with homeowner David Whiting about… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Summer fun, but some are garden chores

SO HERE WE go, finally warm/hot weather! Theoretically, summer means dry, sunny,… Continue reading

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Members of the Polge family from Raleigh, N.C., from left, parents Tami and Steven, and siblings Sebastian, 18, Anna, 15, Christina, 18, and Nico, 7, exmaine an informational display at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge north of Sequim on Thursday. The refuge is sanctuary to a variety of Northwest wildlife and serves as the access point to the Dungeness Spit and the New Dungeness Lighthouse.
Dungeness visit for family

Members of the Polge family from Raleigh, N.C., from left, parents Tami… Continue reading

tsr
Discovery Club offers nature, science, art activities

As part of the Summer Reading Program, North Olympic Library System is… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Thinking our way through Juneteenth and Pride Month

Friends of mine who I trust and who read my columns have… Continue reading

Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to host TED Talks

Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will host “TED Talks: Your… Continue reading

Clothes Closet reopens Wednesdays

First United Methodist Church will reopen its Clothes Closet… Continue reading

Most Read