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Asian giant hornet 2021 battle plans are drawn up

Live captured Asian giant hornet. Source: WSDA
Live captured Asian giant hornet. Source: WSDA

Washington state, British Columbia (BC) and federal agencies are preparing to track, trap and eradicate any Asian giant hornets (AGH) that can be found this year.

Last year an AGH nest was located and eradicated east of Blaine in northern Whatcom County. This occurred a year after a nest had been located and eradicated near Nanimo, BC, the first confirmed sighting of an AGH in North America.

The invasive hornets are almost an inch and a half long and distinguishable by their noticeably large orange heads and prominent black eyes. While they do not generally attack people or pets, they may when threatened. Their stinger is longer than that of a honey bee and their venom is more toxic according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). They can also sting repeatedly.

Asian giant hornets feed on insects and are of particular concern to beekeepers because they are capable of quickly destroying honeybee hives according to WSDA.

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The WSDA says their trapping efforts in 2021 will remain focused on areas in Whatcom County where AGHs were detected in 2019 and 2020. Residents in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island, Jefferson and Clallam counties are going to again be encouraged to also set traps beginning in July.

WSDA traps will continue to use orange juice and rice cooking wine while citizens’ traps will have the option of using either an orange juice-based or a brown sugar-based bait.

Officials with Invasive Species Council of BC are expected to continue last year’s reporting and trapping efforts in Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and in the Fraser Valley, from White Rock to Aldergrove. 6 hornet specimens were collected in the Fraser Valley through public reporting last year. No confirmed sightings of AGHs were reported on Vancouver Island last year and that region could be declared AGH-free if no specimens are found again this year.

Reports from the public have been critical for locating Asian giant hornets WSDA officials say. Half of the confirmed reports in Washington and all of the confirmed reports in British Columbia last year were from members of the public. Washington residents are asked to continue to report all sightings of AGHs to WSDA at agr.wa.gov/hornets, via email at hornets@agr.wa.gov and by calling 1-800-443-6684. British Columbians who think they may have seen an Asian giant hornet can report their findings to the Invasive Species Council of BC at 1-888-933-3722, online at bcinvasives.ca/report or via the council’s “Report Invasives” mobile phone apps.

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The following video is a documentary produced in 2020 by Washington state’s public affairs network, TVW, about the AGH in the Pacific Northwest.

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