The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) also known as the Murder Hornet, has recently been found in Washington state and neighboring Vancouver Island. It is the largest hornet in the world, with workers growing to an inch and a half in length, and can deliver a painful sting with its one quarter inch stinger that can penetrate protective clothing.
The Asian giant hornet has large biting mouthparts that enable it to decapitate insects. In late summer and fall the workers band together to conduct mass attacks on social insects, such as honeybees. The Murder Hornets can overwhelm the bee defenses and slaughter all of the adult bees and have a food bank – immature bees still in their waxen cells – which provide an excellent protein source for their own young larvae.
Government agencies and beekeepers are very concerned that the Asian giant hornet could become established in North America and threaten the $15 billion honeybee industry. They also pose a significant stinging threat to humans and cause up to 50 deaths a year where they are established in Japan. The hornet’s venom may be less toxic than a honeybee’s, but the hornet is so much larger that it packs a bigger dose and it can sting repeatedly.
Currently government agencies are trying to determine if the Asian giant hornet has established any colonies in the Northwest or just escaped from shipments brought over from Asia. Any colonies found could be eradicated with nest treatments or baited traps. At this point there is little concern the Murder Hornet could show up in Northern California anytime soon.
What type of Traps are effective for trapping Asian Giant Hornets?
Research shows various types of traps have been effective for Asian giant hornets in their native range. Trapping for Asian giant hornets in Washington State begins in July and goes through October, when Asian giant hornet workers are most active. Trapping outside of this window is highly unlikely to catch Asian giant hornets and will unnecessarily kill other insects.
Should you set traps for Giant Asian Giant Hornets?
There are no known sightings of Asian giant hornets anywhere else in the United States and trapping for them will likely do more harm than good by catching native desirable insects. PLEASE DO NOT TRAP FOR ASIAN GIANT HORNETS IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON STATE.
Available residential hornet traps are too small for the Asian Giant Hornets to enter and will not be effective for trapping Asian Giant Hornets.
How do I report an Asian Giant Hornet Sighting?
Please report any suspected Asian giant hornet sighting to your local Agriculture Department or contact Planet Orange Pest Control and we will facilitate getting the specimen or sighting to the correct State agencies.
If you are able to obtain a photograph of the suspected hornet, that will dramatically increase the ability to verify your Asian giant hornet report. If you find a specimen, photograph it and send the photo to us at email@example.com. Put the specimen in the freezer in a baggie until you hear whether it is an Asian giant hornet or not.
What is Washington State doing to respond to the introduction of Asian Giant Hornets?
The Washington State Department of Agriculture has a team of experienced entomologists collaborating with federal and international experts to create a plan to trap, track, and hopefully eradicate Asian giant hornet in Washington, including working with Canada to ensure populations on both sides of the border are managed.
The basic plan includes spring, summer, and fall trapping. Summer and fall trapping will include trapping hornets live, tagging them, and tracking them back to their colony. Once a colony is discovered, the colony will be eradicated.