First 2021 live sighting of 'murder hornet' reported in Washington state
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Washington state officials on Thursday confirmed that the first live "murder hornet" was discovered in the state this year.

The sighting of the live Asian giant hornet, also known as the murder hornet, was reported on Wednesday in Whatcom County, the Washington State Department of Agriculture told NBC News.

A dead Asian giant hornet was reportedly found near Seattle in June, in the first confirmed sighting of the insect this year. State and federal officials at the time said that they did not believe that the finding was connected to hornet discoveries in other parts of Washington state and Canada in 2019 and 2020.

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Asian giant hornets are known to prey on other insects, including honey bees. The hornet that was discovered on Wednesday was reportedly attacking paper wasp nests just 2 miles from where Washington state officials had destroyed an Asian giant hornet nest in October.

According to experts, Asian giant hornets are a threat because they have the potential to destroy entire honeybee hives. Honeybees are pollinators for most agriculture.

Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, asked Washington residents on Thursday to keep an eye out for the hornets around paper wasp nests and to note the direction they fly away in as well, NBC reported.

Asian giant hornets were first reported in Canada in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.