Asian giant hornets have been spotted in Washington State

Look out for 'murder hornets'

As if we don't have enough to worry about this spring with COVID-19, flooding and wildfires, now we can add 'murder hornets' to the list.  

Asian giant hornets — also known as 'murder hornets' are now being spotted in Washington State as well as BC, CTV News reports.

Washington agriculture authorities are asking residents to be on the lookout for the invasive giant wasps who are armed with an "excruciating" sting and are known for ripping the heads off honeybees, hence the name 'murder hornets'.

Asian giant hornets originated in South Korea and were first reported last fall near Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Now, residents in Blaine, Wash., near the Canadian border, have spotted the invasive species.

An infestation of the new giant wasps could be devastating for beekeepers who need the bees to pollinate crops like cherries, blueberries and apples.

The invasive yellow-legged Asian hornets, have already caused millions of dollars of damage in Europe particularly in France after they gained a foothold.

The Asian giant hornets measure about two-inches long and have an orange-yellow face with large black eyes.

A Canadian entomologist says Asian giant hornets may spread to other provinces if successful colonies are established here in B.C.

"If [the hornets] survive well in British Columbia, I think the climatic zones that they can survive in would go up into pretty much all of Canada," University of Manitoba entomologist Robert Currie said in a telephone interview with CTV News on Monday. 

"The hope is that they will be able to eradicate them, but they haven't had a lot of success doing that in other countries. In Canada, if there are only one or two colonies that have been introduced and they haven't been firmly established, then they have caught this soon enough and eradication is definitely a possibility," Currie said.

The Asian giant hornet's sting is described as excruciating, and they can sting repeatedly. Their quarter-inch stinger can penetrate beekeeping protective clothing. Their venom, seven-times stronger than that of honeybees, can cause anaphylactic shock, but also can be lethal to people who are not allergic if victims are stung repeatedly.

Scientists will be hunting for queens this spring in hopes of catching the 'murder hornets,' before they establish colonies in B.C.

—with files from CTV News Vancouver


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