'Murder hornet' trapped for the first time in Washington State

Washington State has trapped its first Asian giant hornet. The hornet was found in a U.S. Department of Agriculture bottle trap near Birch Bay on July 14.

Washington State has trapped its first Asian giant hornet, also known as a “murder hornet.”

The insect, believed to be a worker hornet, was found in a Washington State Department of Agriculture trap near Birch Bay in Whatcom County on July 14, officials said Friday. It’s the first giant hornet to be detected in a trap, rather than in the environment.

There have been five previously confirmed sightings in the state.

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“This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work,” Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the state department, said. “But it also means we have work to do.”

The Asian giant hornet has also been sighted in B.C.

The insects can grow to at least 3.5 centimetres in length, with a wingspan up to twice as long. They are the largest species of hornet in the world.

Along with their size, Asian giant hornets are also known to prey on honeybees and destroy their hives, leading to their “murder hornet” nickname, though they’ve also been linked to a few dozen human deaths each year.

Catching one in a trap will enable Washington trappers to search for nests. If they can trap live hornets, they will then attempt to tag them and track them back to the colony.

The state department said it hopes to find and destroy the nest by mid-September before the colony breeds more queens and drones.

There are between 400 and 500 traps in the Whatcom County area alone, with the public setting up an additional 1,000 traps.

Residents are most likely to see a giant hornet in August and September. Anyone who sees one is urged to report it and provide details and a photo if possible.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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