Latest Murder Hornet Find Perplexes Scientists

It's not clear how invasive insect got to city north of Seattle
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 16, 2021 2:52 PM CDT
First Murder Hornet of the Year Found Near Seattle
In this Oct. 24, 2020 photo, a Washington State Department of Agriculture worker displays an Asian giant hornet taken from a nest, in Blaine, Wash.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)

Scientists have found a dead Asian giant hornet north of Seattle, the first so-called murder hornet found in the country this year, federal and state investigators said Wednesday. Entomologists from the state and US Agriculture departments said it's the first confirmed report from Snohomish County, north of Seattle, and appears to be unrelated to the 2019 and 2020 findings of the hornets in Canada and Whatcom County, along the Canadian border, that gained widespread attention, the AP reports. In the latest sighting, a resident found the dead hornet near the city of Marysville and reported it June 4 to the state Department of Agriculture. Entomologists contacted the person June 7, then retrieved the dead hornet the next day. It was very dried out, and found to be a male hornet.

Given the time of year, that it was a male, and that the specimen was exceptionally dry, entomologists believe it was 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, state officials said. "The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge," said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator for the USDA's quarantine program. El-Lissy said the federal agency would work with state officials "to survey the area to verify whether a population exists in Snohomish County.” The 2-inch-long invasive insects are native to Asia and pose a threat to honeybees and native hornet species. (Scientists have asked for the public's help in finding the hornets.)

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