The Entomological Society of America announced it has adopted “northern giant hornet” for the species Vespa mandarinia on its list and database of common insect names.
Although the hornet previously had no official ESA common name, it has most often been referred to as “Asian giant hornet” or “murder hornet” since its introduction in North America was widely publicized in 2020. The hornet attacks and destroys honey bee hives.
According to a news release, the Washington State Department of Agriculture is following ESA’s recommendation and will update its website and printed materials to reflect the newly established ESA common name — northern giant hornet.
Chris Looney, an entomologist who has been actively involved in WSDA’s hornet research and efforts to eradicate northern giant hornet from Washington state, proposed the new ESA common name for V. mandarinia.
In conjunction with the naming of the northern giant hornet, ESA also adopted Looney’s proposal for “southern giant hornet” as the common name for the species Vespa soror —similarly large and closely related to V. mandarinia. The terms “northern” and “southern” refer to the species’ native geographic ranges in Asia.
The ESA also adopted Looney’s proposed name for Vespa velutina — which had been known as the Asian hornet and is now identified as “yellow-legged hornet.” The new names should also help reduce confusion between the different species.
The northern giant hornet is an invasive hornet native to Asia and has been the target of eradication efforts in Washington and British Columbia, Canada, since individual hornets were first discovered in both locations in 2019. By the end of 2021, WSDA entomologists had eradicated four northern giant hornet nests in the state.
Learn more about the northern giant hornet on the WSDA’s webpage: agr.wa.gov/hornets.
—by Jonelle Mejica