First Asian giant hornet of 2021 found in Snohomish County

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — An Asian giant hornet was found near Marysville earlier this month, and scientists say it is the first one found this year and in Snohomish County, said officials with the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

On June 4, a person found a dead hornet, sent it in and reported it to the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s online Hornet Watch Report Form. Officials then sent the hornet to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for final verification.

On June 11, entomologists confirmed that the hornet was Vespa mandarinia, also known as the Asian giant hornet.

Officials said this case appears to be unrelated to the 2019-2020 Asian giant hornets in Canada and Whatcom County.

“WSDA DNA testing and the color variation of the specimen indicate that the specimen appears to be unrelated to the Whatcom County or Canadian Asian giant hornet introductions,” scientists said.

Scientists believe the specimen is an old hornet from a previous season that wasn’t discovered until now due to the time of year, the fact that it was a male and that it was exceptionally dry. Males usually don’t emerge until at least late July.

It’s unknown how the hornet got to Marysville.

“The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge,” said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator for the USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine program. “Last year, the first males emerged in late July, which was earlier than expected. However, we will work with WSDA to survey the area to verify whether a population exists in Snohomish County. USDA will continue to provide technical expertise and monitor the situation in the state. USDA has already provided funding for survey and eradication activities as well as research into lures and population genetics.”

Last year, half of the confirmed Asian giant hornet sightings in the state and all in Canada came from the public.

“This new report continues to underscore how important public reporting is for all suspected invasive species, but especially Asian giant hornet,” said Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist. “We’ll now be setting traps in the area and encouraging citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties. None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report.”

Officials are urging people to report every suspected sighting to the WSDA at agr.wa.gov/hornets, by emailing hornets@agr.wa.gov or call 1-800-443-6684.