Living in the Marysville and Snohomish WA area, there’s a large chance you’ve heard all about the Asian giant hornet, infamously dubbed as the “murder hornet”. With two sightings of these dangerous hornets in the northernmost part of our state, it’s understandable why you may be worrying about these insects. As the biggest hornet in the world, the Asian giant hornet can administer a potentially lethal sting. Besides that, they are also extremely threatening to the honeybee population. The team at Western Exterminator, formerly Pratt Pest is here to share all you need to know about the murder hornet.
Where are Asian Giant Hornets Being Spotted?
True to their name, these hornets are historically found in China, Japan, and some other Asian countries. However, the first sighting of them in North America occurred several months ago in an area that probably feels a little too close for comfort: the Blaine area. And another sighting has just been recorded in Bellingham! As of now, it’s still unknown how they arrived in North America, but it’s predicted to be through international cargo shipments.
How to Identify Murder Hornets
Asian giant hornets have very distinctive features and are best identified by their size.
Some of their features include:
- Workers are 1 ½ – 2” in length while queens can exceed 2”
- Light orange head with an orange, black, and brown striped body.
- Large, prominent eyes
- Distinctly sharp mandibles
- Six legs and a set of antennae
- ¼” (6 mm) length stinger
The Dangers of Asian Giant Hornets
These hornets are predators of honeybees and can quickly devastate the population. They attack honey bee hives, killing adult bees and devouring bee larvae and pupae. A single murder hornet can kill dozens of honeybees in minutes, and a group of 30 hornets can devour a hive of nearly 30,0000 bees in just a few hours.
Of course, people are very concerned about the lethal sting these hornets can administer. Like many stinging insects, the murder hornet will not attack humans unless they feel provoked or threatened. Their stings contain neurotoxins and are extremely painful. If someone is stung multiple times, the neurotoxins can cause organ failure and eventual death. In Japan, these hornets are responsible for nearly 50 deaths a year.
How Worried Should We Be?
Thankfully, scientists are working hard to find, trap, and eradicate these pests before they become a real problem. Because they thrive in the wooded landscape and mild, wet climate, there is a chance more sightings can occur. If you think you’ve caught sight of an Asian giant hornet, it’s important to stay away and contact a licensed professional to report the sighting.