Dead ‘murder hornet’ near Seattle is 1st found in US in 2021

SPOKANE (AP) — Scientists have found a dead Asian giant hornet north of Seattle, the first so-called murder hornet discovered in the country this year, federal and state investigators said on Wednesday.

Entomologists from the state and United States (US) Agriculture departments said it’s the first confirmed report from Snohomish County, north of Seattle, and appears to be unrelated to the 2019 and 2020 findings of the hornets in Canada and Whatcom County, along the Canadian border, that gained widespread attention.

The five-centimetre-long invasive insects, first found near the US-Canadian border in December 2019, are native to Asia and pose a threat to honeybees and native hornet species. While not particularly aggressive toward humans, their sting is extremely painful and repeated stings, though rare, can kill.

The world’s largest hornet is much more of a threat to honeybees that are relied on to pollinate crops. They attack hives, destroying them in mere hours and decapitating bees in what scientists call their “slaughter phase”.

How they got here from Asia is unclear, although it is suspected they travel on cargo ships.

An Asian giant hornet taken from a nest in Blaine, Washington. PHOTO: AP