In this October 2020 photo, a Washington state Department of Agriculture worker holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree in Blaine. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

In this October 2020 photo, a Washington state Department of Agriculture worker holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree in Blaine. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Scientists will set 1,000 traps for murder hornets this year

Asian giant hornets, first detected in 2019, are are believed to be confined in Whatcom County.

  • By Jacqueline Allison Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, May 25, 2022 1:30am
  • Local News

By Nicholas K. Geranios/ Associated Press

SPOKANE — Scientists will set about 1,000 traps this year in their quest to wipe out the Asian giant hornet in Washington, the state Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

Scientists believe the hornets, first detected in the Pacific Northwest state in 2019, are confined in Whatcom County, which is located on the Canadian border north of Seattle.

“We are doing pretty good right now,” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, who is leading the fight to eradicate the hornets for the state Department of Agriculture. “We know about where the nests are located in Whatcom County.”

The insects are the world’s largest hornets, with queens reaching up to 2 inches long. They are considered invasive in North America for their ability to kill other bee and hornet species, which is how they got the nickname “murder hornets.”

Hornets caught in traps help scientists find the location of nests. The state eradicated three nests last year, all near the town of Blaine, and there have been no confirmed reports of Asian giant hornet nests so far this year, Spichiger said.

In 2021, a dead Asian giant hornet was found on a lawn near Marysville, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Most of the traps will be set in northern Whatcom County, but a few will be set in the city of Bellingham, he said.

The agency is also encouraging residents to set their own traps, to cover more ground.

The hornets will not be considered eradicated until Washington has gone three full years with no detections, the agency said. The first confirmed detection of an Asian giant hornet in Washington was made in December 2019.

Spichiger said the Entomological Society of America is also working to establish an official name for the insect. Asian giant hornet, or the popular nickname murder hornet, are not official names, he said.

The hornets can also deliver a painful sting, which can result in death if a person is stung repeatedly. Asian giant hornets rarely attack humans unless provoked. About 30 to 50 people die annually from Asian giant hornet stings in Japan, one of their native habitats.

Meanwhile, hornets, wasps and bees typically found in the United States kill an average of 62 people a year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

The battle to prevent the Asian giant hornet, an apex predator, from establishing a foothold in North America is being fought mostly in Whatcom County and the nearby Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Whatcom County is about 55 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Another effort is underway to determine exactly where in Asia these hornets came from, to try and learn how they are getting across the Pacific Ocean, scientists said. The theory is they are crossing on cargo ships, officials have said.

Hornet queens tend to emerge from winter quarters in the spring and establish nests to birth worker hornets. The hornets start attacking and destroying beneficial honey bees later in the year, eating the bees for protein as they raise more hornets.

A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours. The honey bees pollinate many of the crops in Washington’s multibillion-dollar agriculture industry.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Everett
Man shot at Everett apartment

The man in his 30s was shot Sunday night. No arrests had been made.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist identified in fatal crash near Lake Stevens

Anthony Palko, 33, died Monday night after colliding with a passenger car. The juveniles in the car were taken to the hospital.

Marysville
Police: Marysville man shot sword-wielding roommate in self-defense

The roommates were arguing over eBay sales, according to police. Then one of them allegedly brandished a two-foot sword.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Everett boy, 12, identified as Davies Beach drowning victim

Malachi Bell was one of three swimmers in distress Sunday in Lake Stevens. He did not survive.

Everett
Port of Everett hosting annual open house after pandemic hiatus

Also, Rustic Cork Wine Bar plans to open a second shop at Fisherman’s Harbor — the latest addition to the port’s “wine walk.”

Arlington Public Works employees use The Big Sidewalk Sucker to lift a concrete panel from the sidewalk. The device saves the city some money and time to level ground below the concrete. (Arlington Public Works)
This thing sucks and helps repair sidewalks in Arlington

Public works crews can remove heavy concrete panels from sidewalks, so the ground underneath can be restored.

New LGI Homes on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Sultan, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Red-hot housing market cools, a bit, in Snohomish County

The amount of housing inventory is rising. Demand is slowing. Higher mortgage rates are a cause.

John McKeon stands in front of a mobile headquarters vehicle while discussing the funding needs of Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at the search and rescue headquarters in Snohomish, Washington. McKeon said a priority for the group is to find money for new covered parking for a number of vehicles that do not have a garage to be parked in. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue wants rescuing

They’re asking for nearly $1 million in federal recovery dollars, but funding has been hard to come by.

Mike Kersey with Aiya Moore, daughter of Christina Anderson, right, talk about the condition of Nick’s Place in Everett, Washington on June 17, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘We’re all good people when we get clean and sober’

Who has fentanyl taken from us? A messenger who saved lives. A “street mom.” A grandpa who loved his grandkids “999 trillion times.”

Most Read