BIRCH BAY, Wash. — The state of Washington has captured it’s first Asian giant hornet – a successful first step in a plan to track hornets back to nests, part of an effort to stop the invasive species from spreading across the state.
Sven Spichiger, the managing entomologist for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, called it “encouraging,” since it is confirmation that the new trapping systems deployed by the state for the first time this year work.
“But it also means we have work to do,” said Spichiger.
Asian giant hornets – which garnered national attention under the nickname ‘murder hornets’ – are capable of killing off entire honeybee colonies that Washingtonians rely on for pollination of a multi-million-dollar crop industry. They have the ability to kill small animals, and in some rare cases, have killed humans in other parts of the world when an individual has been stung multiple times.
The current goal of the WSDA is to trap Asian giant hornets so that they can be tagged and released. Scientists would theoretically track the hornet back to a nest, giving them the chance to send in crews to eradicate the nests before they’re capable of spreading further.
In addition to the traps that WSDA has set to catch Asian giant hornets, citizen scientists and other cooperators have placed over 1,300 traps across the state.
Those interested in trapping can still build and set traps on their own property. Traps require weekly bait replacement and a commitment to mail the trap contents to WSDA if bees or wasps are collected.
If anyone in Washington captures a live Asian giant hornet, they should call the WSDA Pest Program hotline at 1-800-443-6684.
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