Dead ‘murder hornet’ found near Seattle is first in U.S. this year

Dead 'murder hornet' found near Seattle is first in U.S. this year
A Washington State Department of Agriculture workers holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Scientists have found a dead Asian giant hornet north of Seattle; the first so-called murder hornet discovered in the country this year. The 2-inch-long (5-centimeter-long) invasive insects, first found near the U.S.-Canadian border in December 2019, are native to Asia and threaten honeybees and native hornet species. While not particularly aggressive toward humans, their sting is excruciating, 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.

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 dehydrated, entomologists believe it was an old hornet from a previous season that wasn’t discovered until now. New males usually don’t emerge until at least July.

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