Dead murder hornet near Seattle is first found in US in 2021: ‘It is too early’

SPOKANE, Wash. — 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 Wednesday.

Entomologists from the state and U.S. 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 2-inch-long invasive insects, first found near the U.S.-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.

“Hitchhikers are a side effect of all the commerce we do globally,” said Sven Spichiger, an entomologist with the state Agriculture Department who is leading the fight to eradicate the hornets.

Murder hornets, infected mink: Times that nature was a nightmare in 2020

In the latest sighting, a resident found the dead hornet on his lawn near the city of Marysville and reported it June 4 to the state agency. Entomologists retrieved it June 8, reporting that it was very dried out and a male hornet.

Given the time of year, that it was a male and that the specimen was exceptionally dry, entomologists believe it was an old hornet from a previous season that wasn’t discovered until now, officials said. New males usually don’t emerge until at least July.

There is no obvious pathway for how the hornet got to Marysville, officials said.

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