WSDA traps first male Asian giant hornet

VIDEO: State traps first male Asian Giant hornet

CUSTER, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Agriculture trapped a male Asian giant hornet – the first male Asian giant hornet to be detected in the United States.

The hornet was caught in a WSDA Asian giant hornet bottle trap near Custer in Whatcom County, where a mated queen was found dead earlier this year and a suspected bee kill was reported in 2019.

The trap was collected on July 29 and processed in WSDA’s lab on Aug. 13.

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“Trapping a male Asian giant hornet in July initially came as a surprise,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said. “But further examination of the research and consultation with international experts confirmed that a few males can indeed emerge early in the season.”

Spichiger said it is evidence of at least one nest.

WSDA will be setting traps in the area to try to trap a live Asian giant hornet, tag it, and track it back to its nest. If the nest is found, it will be destroyed.

The concern is the invasive species can decimate bee hives.

KIRO 7 asked Spichiger if there was a sense they were losing time before the hornets can cause serious damage. losin

“Yes, in some ways we are always under pressure to make sure we do this as soon as possible. So it’s always been the goal to try to eliminate any nests that may have established this year prior to September 15,” Spichiger explained.

But Spichiger said they have some time before they really start to feel the pressure.

“The drop dead date for me is October.  We started having reports of bee kills, some of them confirmed starting in the month of October, and that’s really what we’re trying to prevent,” Spichiger added.

Because Asian giant hornet workers increase as a colony develops, they are most likely seen in August and September. If you think you have seen one, report it at agr.wa.gov/hornets.

The Asian giant hornet is the second caught in a WSDA trap. The first – an unmated queen -- was caught on July 14.

The two trapped hornets bring the total number of Asian giant hornets detected in the state to seven. All of them were trapped in Whatcom County.

Along with traps set by WSDA, citizen scientists and others placed more than 1,400 traps throughout the state. Those interested in trapping can still build and set traps on their own property. If a citizen scientist traps a live Asian giant hornet, they should call the WSDA Pest Program hotline at 1-800-443-6684.

Visit WSDA’s website at agr.wa.gov/hornets to learn more about Asian giant hornets. You can also submit questions the WSDA Pest Program at hornets@agr.wa.gov or 1-800-443-6684.