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WSDA prepares for another season of trapping and monitoring for possible northern giant hornet sightings

A tagged northern giant hornet feeds on strawberry jam before being released to be tracked back to its nest (August 13, 2021). Photo courtesy of WSDA

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — 2022 was the first year without a confirmed northern giant hornet (NGH) (formerly known as Asian giant hornet) sighting since they were first found in 2019 in Nanaimo, Canada, and soon after in the eastern Blaine area, marking their first confirmed North American sightings.

NGHs are known to attack and destroy honeybee hives with a few hornets being able to destroy an entire hive in a matter of hours.

Federal guidelines require 3 consecutive years without a confirmed detection to declare the NGHs eradicated from the area. So, efforts are gearing up again this year to continue trapping and monitoring for the presence of Vespa mandarinia, commonly referred to as NGH, in Whatcom County this year. Citizen participation is again being requested.

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

We’re getting to the time of year when queens emerge, so keep your eyes open and a phone ready to snap a photo and report suspected sightings.

Click for more information

Click for more information

If you see an insect you suspect is a northern giant hornet, please report it. If possible, please include:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Location and date of the sighting
  • Photograph of the insect (we generally cannot confirm a report without a photo or specimen)

If you cannot take a photo, include a description of the size of the insect, the color of the head and body, and what it was doing.

If possible, note the direction the hornet(s) flew when flying away.

You can report sightings by visiting our Hornet Watch Report Form. Washington State Department of Agriculture (April 19, 2023)

Citizens are also encouraged to build and register hornet traps and are reminded trapping for NGHs begins in July when the worker hornets begin leaving the nests to forage. WSDA officials are currently reminding citizens to wait until July to set traps, “Traps at this point are likely only to unnecessarily kill native insects with only a very remote possibility of trapping a queen.”

Since the first NGH nest was discovered and destroyed in Nanaimo, British Columbia in 2019, there have been multiple sightings and captures in northern Whatcom County areas in and around Blaine. Live captures have been equipped with electronic tracking devices and followed to 4 nests located in nearby Alder trees; 1 in 2020 and 3 in 2021.

A tagged Asian giant hornet is seen before being released to be tracked back to its nest (September 10, 2021). Photo courtesy of WSDA
A tagged northern giant hornet is seen before being released to be tracked back to its nest (September 10, 2021). Photo courtesy of WSDA
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