Scientists have been trying to trap invasive insects and prevent an infestation since they were first spotted in the state last year. Over two inches long, hornets get their nickname from their propensity to attack and kill bees and potentially people.
So far, five giant hornets have been officially sighted in the state. It is the first found in a trap, according to a press release.
Officials said Friday they identified the giant Asian hornet earlier this week in a trap collected near Birch Bay on July 14.
“This is encouraging because it means we know the traps work,” Sven Spichiger, director entomologist for the Washington Department of Agriculture (WSDA) said in the announcement. “But it also means we have work to do. ”
This work includes searching for nests using infrared cameras and setting up more traps, according to the announcement. The state’s agriculture department plans to deploy special traps that will catch hornets and keep them alive so they can be tagged and traced to their colonies. Once the agency finds the settlements, it will destroy them.
The hope is to find the nest by mid-September before the colony begins to create new queens and breeding drones, the statement said.
Scientists do not know how these giant hornets native to Asia ended up in Washington state.
Possibilities include international container ships, purchases shipped to the United States, travelers visiting the United States or returning from another country, the state says on its website.
Washington state agriculture officials are asking beekeepers and residents to report any sightings of giant hornets. According to the press release, August and September are the most likely to be spotted.
But don’t get too close.