SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — A resident reported finding a deceased hornet near Marysville and submitted a report the evening of Friday, June 4th, via Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) online Hornet Watch Report Form. Entomologists contacted the resident on June 7th and retrieved the specimen on June 8th. The specimen was very dried out and was determined to be a male Asian giant hornet (AGH).
Officials with the WSDA said in an email today, June 16th, this specimen is the first report of an AGH this year and the first ever from Snohomish County.
The hornet was submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS). On June 11, WSDA and USDA APHIS entomologists confirmed that the collected specimen was Vespa mandarinia, an AGH. WSDA DNA testing and the color variation of the specimen indicate the specimen is unrelated to the Whatcom County or Canadian Asian giant hornet detections since 2019.
Given the time of year, that it was a male, and that the specimen was exceptionally dry, entomologists believe that the specimen is an old hornet from a previous season that wasn’t discovered until now. New males usually don’t emerge until at least July. There is no obvious pathway for how the hornet got to Marysville.
“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 (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine program. “Last year, the first males emerged in late July, which was earlier than expected. However, we will work with WSDA to survey the area to verify whether a population exists in Snohomish County. USDA will continue to provide technical expertise and monitor the situation in the state. USDA has already provided funding for survey and eradication activities as well as research into lures and population genetics.”
Washington State Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture press release (June 16, 2021)
This finding occurred as WSDA is preparing to begin the AGH trapping season. WSDA entomologists have said trapping for AGH worker hornets will not start until July, when worker hornets are expected to become more active and numerous. While WSDA has said they will trap exclusively in Whatcom County, they also continue to encourage residents to set traps again this year in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island, Clallam and Jefferson counties. Trapping instructions are available on WSDA’s website.
With the discovery of the Snohomish County confirmed specimen, WSDA has said they will expand their trapping efforts into and are encouraging resident trapping in Snohomish and King Counties.
In 2020, half of the confirmed Asian giant hornet sightings in Washington and all of the confirmed sightings in Canada came from the public. Every suspected sighting in Washington State should be reported to the Washington State Department of Agriculture online at agr.wa.gov/hornets, by emailing email@example.com, or calling 1-800-443-6684. Suspected sightings in other areas should be reported to the state or province where it suspected hornet was observed.