Invasive Asian giant hornet found in Washington state

Invasive Asian giant hornet found in Washington state
Asian giant hornet (Washington State Department of Agriculture)

The Asian giant hornet, an invasive species which has not been previously found in Washington state, was found in Blaine, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

WSDA officials said a person found the hornet on their property Dec. 8. Two days later, entomologists went, recovered the dead specimen and identified it as the hornet.

The hornet is an unwelcome pest and represents a threat to honeybees, for which they have a “voracious appetite,” scientists said. They also have a powerful sting and are not known to be aggressive toward people.

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Scientists and Washington State Department of Health officials are warning people to be on the lookout for the insects and take precautions, avoiding contact.

Preventative measures to help people avoid contact with the insects include keeping food and drinks covered and dispose of food and garbage properly, according to health officials.

If a person is stung by the hornet, DOH officials recommend “washing the site thoroughly with soap and water and applying ice or a cold compress to reduce swelling. The agency also recommends an antihistamine or use of an anti-itch cream to reduce itching if necessary. If you are stung multiple times or have symptoms of a severe reaction following a sting, call 911 or seek medical care immediately,” according to information posted by the WSDA.

Asian giant hornets are not usually aggressive, but because of their size and stinger, it’s best to avoid them.

The hornets are commonly 1 1/2-inch half long and have distinctive yellow heads with noticeable black eyes, according to scientists.

The hornets can destroy honeybee hives, which is a concern to beekeepers.

Officials with WSDA said this is the first time the species has been detected in the state.

Back in September, the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture issued a pest alert about the insect.