• Giant bug, drawn by smoke, goes on attack

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    SEATTLE - A giant exotic wasp that is attracted to smoke from wildfires appeared determined to sting a woman over the weekend in Lakewood until her husband killed it.

     

    An expert told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News the unusual bug is attracted to smoke and that with the fires burning in Washington, the insect might become a more common sight.

     

    The Lakewood woman said the bug was attracted to her barbeque grill. She it said became aggressive and went after her.

     

    "I felt something hit my hand, and it felt really big, and I look over, and it's a giant bug!" Cynthia Digerness said.

     

    Digerness said the giant bug was aggressive.

     

    "It started, like, circling me like it was trying to sting me, and it kind of got under my skirt a little -- and that's when I just, like, really took off.''

     

    Digerness said her husband killed the insect.

     

    "He … hit it a few times, and it doesn't smash like a regular bug, so he ended up having to cut the thing's head off. It was still trying to sting us, so he had to cut the stinger off," she said.

     

    When the couple posted the pictures on Facebook, friends identified it as a Tarantula Hawk, a stinging insect not native to Washington state.

     

    "I am not a bug expert, so I am really relying on other people to tell me what it is," Digerness said.

     

    Reporter Gary Horcher gave what was left of the bug to Don Ehlen, a bug expert.

     

    Ehlen said the wasp, which looks like the bigger Tranchula Hawk, is attracted to smoke from forest fires because fire helps the bug to reproduce.

     

    "So if a fire burns, and there's freshly dead or injured trees, that's where they want to lay their eggs," Ehlen said.

     

    The smoke makes the bugs more active.

     

    Ehlen said it's actually very big hornback wasp. It does not sting, but it is unusual.

     

    And he said what looks like a stinger is a boring tool for laying eggs in burned wood.

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