First live Asian giant hornet sighting of 2021 in Whatcom County

The first 2021 sighting of a live “murder hornet” in Washington has been confirmed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).

A Whatcom County resident spotted the hornet and submitted a report on Aug. 11.

Entomologists reviewed the information, which included a photo of an Asian giant hornet attacking a paper wasp nest in a rural area east of Blaine, officials said. The sighting is 2 miles from where the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S. was eradicated last fall.

“This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year — attacking paper wasp nests,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said. “If you have paper wasp nests on your property and live in the area, keep an eye on them and report any Asian giant hornets you see. Note the direction they fly off to as well.”

WSDA confirmed live traps will be set in the area in an attempt to catch, tag and track a live hornet back to its nest. Additional traps will also be set by the British Columbia government to find a hornet since the U.S./Canadian border is approximately a half-mile away.

In an effort to track the hornets, half of WSDA’s confirmed reports and all of Canada’s came from the public in 2020.

There have been two confirmed reports in the U.S. this year, both coming from residents. There have been no reports in Canada. Officials said no hornets have been detected in traps either.

The hornets are not native to the U.S. and reportedly prey on honey bees and other insects. A small group of “murder hornets” reportedly can kill an entire honey bee hive in hours as they attack in the late summer or early fall.

Ways you can report sightings:

Visiting WSDA’s website at agr.wa.gov/hornets is the best way to report suspected hornet sightings. The online reporting form allows you to upload photos and indicate on a map where the sighting occurred. Alternatively, sightings can be emailed to hornets@agr.wa.gov or can be reported at 1-800-443-6684.