First Murder Hornet Found in USA This Year

If you thought the terrifying-sounding murder hornets would be a thing we'd leave in 2020, think again. The first murder hornet found in the U.S. in 2021 has been found near Seattle. According to Phys.org, scientists have found a dead Asian giant hornet in Snohomish County north of Seattle, though the specimen appears to be unrelated to the 2019 and 2020 findings of the hornets in Whatcom County along the Canadian border and in Canada.

Per the report, the dead murder hornet was found by a Marysville, WA resident on his lawn on June 4. Entomologists retrieved the specimen on June 8. What's interesting about the hornet is that it was "very dried out and a male hornet" leading officials to believe that it is an old hornet from a previous season. New male Asian giant hornets don't typically emerge until July.

"The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge," said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's quarantine program.

Additionally, this specimen is the first found in that county and had different coloring than previously collected specimens. DNA testing did confirm that the specimen is a so-called murder hornet and El-Lissy indicated that they would work with state officials "to survey the area to verify whether a population exists in Snohomish County."

Murder hornets were first spotted in North America in the fall of 2019. An invasive species, they are native to Asia and despite their terrifying name aren't especially aggressive toward humans. However, their sting is extremely painful and while rare, repeated stings can kill. The hornets are particularly dangerous to honeybees and native hornet species. Last summer, the Washington State Department of Agriculture implemented bottle traps as part of a larger strategy to try to prevent further spread and it seems that a similar strategy will be employed in both Snohomish and King counties this year.

"We'll now be setting traps in the area and encouraging citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties," Sven Spichiger, an entomologist with the state Agriculture Department said. "None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report."

0comments

Were you expecting murder hornets again in 2021? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images