PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Agricultural officials in Washington state have trapped the first male Asian giant hornet to be found in the United States so far. The capture of the invasive species, popularly known as the “murder hornet,” came weeks before entomologists expected males of the species to emerge.
The male was collected from a bottle trap near Custer, Wash. in late July, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). It was processed in WSDA’s entomology lab last week.
A mated queen hornet was found dead in Custer earlier this year, and the area was the site of a suspected bee kill in 2019.
Officials said trapping a male Asian giant hornet in July was originally a surprise, but after consulting with international experts, they confirmed that “a few males can indeed emerge early in the season,” according to a WSDA press release. The hornets are most commonly spotted between July and October.
The agency will set more traps in the area to try to try to catch a live Asian giant hornet, tag it, and track it back to its nest. If they find a nest, WSDA said it will eradicate it.
So far, seven Asian giant hornets have been found in Washington, all of them in Whatcom County. They are an invasive species with a “voracious appetite” for honeybees and a sting toxic enough to be fatal in group attacks, though experts say they usually aren’t interested in humans or animals.