‘Adopt a wasp’ to help monitor Asian giant hornets

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Adopting a wasp nest may not sound like an activity you want to take part in, but the Washington State Department of Agriculture said monitoring one can help them find Asian giant hornets.

Over the last two years, people who live in Whatcom County said they have noticed hornets attacking paper wasp nests. Last year, WSDA said it tracked a hornet and saw it repeatedly visiting the same paper wasp nest, with each visit lasting five to ten minutes. The hornet removed paper wasp larvae during the visits.

Starting in June, citizens who want to participate can locate paper wasp nests that they can monitor through Oct. 30. They then log the nest locations using the Adopt A Paper Wasp registration form, register them online to get a site ID, and then complete weekly check-ins and report them online. People can register starting June 1. Find more information at this link.

A weekly check-in involves observing any hornet or wasp activity at the nests. WSDA asks volunteers to monitor the nests for at least five minutes during the day once a week, but nests can be checked as long and as often as the volunteer likes. Click here to report and access the check-in form.

Although anyone in Washington can participate in adopting a paper wasp nest, WSDA is particularly interested in observations from Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Snohomish, King, Jefferson and Clallam counties.

If you think you’ve spotted an Asian giant hornet, which would be significantly larger than a paper wasp, WSDA asks that volunteers safely take a photo and report it at agr.wa.gov/hornets or by emailing hornets@agr.wa.gov.

How to identify paper wasps

According to WSDA:

“Paper wasps can grow to about ¾ of an inch long and have a well-defined ‘wasp waist’ that makes them easy to identify. Paper wasps are typically not aggressive and do not readily attack people, but they can sting if threatened. They form small colonies and build hanging, open comb nests on building eaves, frames, abandoned cars, or branches of trees and shrubs. Paper wasp nests vary in size and are usually gray to brown in color. They are made up of many exposed cells that are less than an inch deep. Nests typically range from the size of a quarter to as wide as a coffee can lid but can be larger.”