Entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the first report of an Asian giant hornet for 2021. According to a WSDA news release, this is the first confirmed report from Snohomish County and appears to be unrelated to the 2019 and 2020 Asian giant hornet sightings in Whatcom County and in Canada.
According to the release, a resident found a deceased hornet near Marysville on June 4 and submitted a report on WSDA’s online form. Entomologists contacted the resident on June 7 and retrieved the hornet on June 8. The specimen was very dried out, had different coloring than previous specimens and was observed to be a male hornet.
On June 11, WSDA and USDA entomologists confirmed the collected specimen was Vespa mandarinia — known as the Asian giant hornet. DNA testing and the color variation of the specimen indicate that the specimen is unrelated to the Whatcom County or Canadian Asian giant hornets previously detected.
Entomologists believe the specimen is an old hornet from a previous season and wasn’t discovered until now.
“The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge,” Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator for the USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine program, said in the release. “Last year, the first males emerged in late July, which was earlier than expected. However, we will work with WSDA to survey the area to verify whether a population exists in Snohomish County.”
There is no obvious pathway for how the hornet arrived in Marysville.
“This new report continues to underscore how important public reporting is for all suspected invasive species, but especially Asian giant hornet,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said in the release. “We’ll now be setting traps in the area and encouraging citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties. None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report.”
Every suspected sighting in Washington should be reported to the WSDA online at agr.wa.gov/hornets, by emailing email@example.com or by calling 1-800-443-6684. Suspected sightings in other areas should be reported to the state or province where the suspected hornet was observed.
—by Jonelle Mejica