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Do-it-yourself traps will aid in the hunt for bee-killing hornets spotted in Blaine

Asian giant hornet (Source: WSDA)

Officials with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) are asking the public, especially beekeepers, to report Asian giant hornet sightings and attacks. In addition, they are asking the public to place and monitor easy-to-build traps. This comes after a dead specimen was recovered in Blaine in December of last year. To date, that has been the only confirmed appearance of these hornets in Washington.

On Dec. 8, a resident in Blaine near the Canadian border reported an unusually large hornet they found on their property. Two days later, WSDA visited the site, collected the specimen, which was dead, and confirmed its identity a short time later. The resident also reported seeing a live giant hornet at a humming bird feeder before it retreated into a nearby forest.WSDA announcement (December 19, 2019)

A colony was also located in Nanaimo, BC in September of last year.

These hornets are reported to have a “voracious appetite” for honeybees according to the December 19th WSDA announcement, and are capable of quickly destroying honeybee hives.

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The invasive hornets are almost an inch and a half long and distinguishable by their noticeably large orange heads and prominent black eyes.

Asian giant hornet. Source: WSDA
Asian giant hornet. Source: WSDA

Plans were made by WSDA after the December sighting to set traps this spring in the Blaine area to monitor the presence of Asian giant hornets.

The first step to eradicating this invasive pest – which threatens honeybees and all the crops they pollinate – is to locate the existing Asian giant hornet colonies. To do that, WSDA is enlisting the help of beekeepers and the public to trap and report Asian giant hornets in Washington. WSDA ANNOUNCEMENT (April 2, 2020)

WSDA is asking volunteers to set and monitor Asian giant hornets traps in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, and Clallam counties.

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Anyone interested in setting and monitoring traps can get directions for building traps and making the appropriate bait from WSDA. All trap locations should be registered with and specimens collected mailed to WSDA. Officials warn, “Don’t trap for Asian giant hornets if you are allergic to bee or wasp stings,” noting their venom is more toxic than that of local bees and wasps.

While some may be interested in attracting and trapping these hornets, others are likely wondering how to avoid them altogether. WSDA officials provide the following tips to make yourself and your home less attractive to them:

  • Avoid wearing fragrant perfumes, cologne, lotions or hair products
  • Keep food and drink covered or under screens when eating outdoors
  • Clean up and dispose food and garbage properly, including decaying fallen fruit and dog or other animal feces
  • Use wasp guards on humming bird feeders to prevent Asian giant hornets from accessing the liquid

If you encounter an Asian giant hornet, WSDA officials advise slowly and calmly leaving the area and that swatting at it may cause it to sting. If you encounter several hornets, run to get away from them. If a hornet flies inside your vehicle, stop safely, open all the windows and get out if safe to do so until the hornet has left.

Should you locate a suspected Asian giant hornet nest, WSDA officials say not to approach or attempt to remove or destroy it. Instead, note the location and report it to WSDA immediately.

If an Asian giant hornet stings you, WSDA officials advise washing the wound location thoroughly with soap and water and apply ice to slow the spread of venom. There will be no stinger to remove. Seek medical attention if you are stung multiple times or have signs of an allergic reaction. It is okay to take an antihistamine or apply creams to reduce itching if necessary.

Call 911 if any of these signs occur after being stung:

  • Trouble breathing, wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Swelling anywhere on the face or in the mouth
  • Throat tightness or difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling faint or dizziness
  • Turning blue
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