Story at a glance

  • Scientists have discovered 2021’s first Asian giant hornet — or “murder hornet” — dead in a town near Seattle, U.S. Agriculture Department investigators said Wednesday.
  • The investigators said their finding does not seem to be related to the widely publicized sightings in 2019 and 2020 along the Canadian border.
  • Asian giant hornets can be anywhere from 1.5 to 2 inches long and “are equipped with relatively massive mandibles (teeth) and can easily tear honey bees in half.”

Scientists have discovered 2021’s first Asian giant hornet — or “murder hornet” — dead in a town near Seattle, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigators said Wednesday. 

A person found the insect on their lawn June 4, and upon retrieval, authorities reported that they believed the hornet was a holdover from the previous season, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

The investigators said their finding does not seem to be related to the widely publicized sightings in 2019 and 2020 along the Canadian border, according to AP. The invasive species, which on rare occasions can be lethal to humans, present a threat to honeybee populations. 


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Asian giant hornets can be anywhere from 1.5 to 2 inches long and “are equipped with relatively massive mandibles (teeth) and can easily tear honey bees in half,” according to a 2020 report from the USDAThe department said that murder hornets generally attack honeybees in late summer and early fall. 

The hornets' arrival in North America is still a mystery, but USDA entomologist Sven Spichiger told AP that international trade might have played a role. 

“Hitchhikers are a side effect of all the commerce we do globally,” Spichiger said. 


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Spichiger told AP that the new sighting highlights the importance of “public reporting.”

“We’ll now be setting traps in the area and encouraging citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties,” Spichiger said. “None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report.”

Still, the USDA warns those allergic to bee stings to “calmly leave the area.” 


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Published on Jun 17, 2021