Murder hornets are back this year. Authorities in Washington state announced they have confirmed the first report of an Asian giant hornet in a town north of Seattle.
A person found a dead hornet earlier this month and reported it to the Washington State Department of Agriculture on June 4 using their hornet watch form. Officials say the discovery is unique for a few reasons, one is that it is the first murder hornet found in Snohomish County.
“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 in a written statement.
“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.”
State officials say they will now set traps in the area.
The insects are native to parts of east Asia and eastern Russia and have been spotted in Washington and Canada in the last two years.
The so-called murder hornets can wipe out colonies of other bugs, including honey bees, in a matter of hours. Their sting can be life-threatening to humans.
Toward the end of last year, scientists were able to locate a murder hornet nest in Washington near the Canadian border by attaching radio trackers to a few caught insects. The nest was eradicated.