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Asian giant hornet found near Custer

Dead Asian giant hornet found near Custer (May 27, 2020). Source: WSDA Photo: Joel Nielsen

Officials with Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) say they were contacted by a resident near Custer after finding what appeared to be dead Asian giant hornet on a roadway. Subsequent investigation confirmed that, making it the first sighting in 2020.

According to a WSDA press release, a photo and report was sent to WSDA on May 27th via the online Hornet Watch Report Form. WSDA entomologists concluded the next day the photo might be an Asian giant hornet and the specimen was collected and submitted for laboratory testing. Today, May 29th, state and federal labs confirmed the specimen was an Asian giant hornet.

The hornet was detected near the location of a suspected Asian giant hornet bee kill in 2019. WSDA had already planned trapping in the area and will maintain that plan to try to find any colony that may be there.

The first find of the year in the United States comes just days after the British Columbian government confirmed their first detection of the year in Canada near Langley, B.C. That specimen was initially reported to authorities on May 15.

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Washington State Department of Agriculture press release (May 29, 2020)

This is the first sighting in the US since a dead specimen was recovered in Blaine in December of last year. A colony was also located in Nanaimo, BC in September of last year.

Since the specimens were confirmed in Washington late last year, state entomologists have been working with USDA to create trapping and eradication plans for this invasive pest in order to protect honey bees and the hundreds of crops in Washington that depend on those bees for pollination according to the press release.

“This is truly a collaborative effort,” Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for WSDA’s Pest Program, said. “From federal and state partners to individual beekeepers and proactive community members, it will take all of us working together to locate and eradicate Asian giant hornets from our state.”

WSDA plans to locate these hornets through trapping and public reporting of Asian giant hornet sightings. Members of the Mt. Baker Beekeeper Association have also partnered with WSDA to place experimental traps.

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