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BLAINE, Wash. (WJW)– Asian giant hornets are now in North America.

While the invasive species were first reported in Washington state in December, the so-called “murder hornets” were trending on social media on Saturday, thanks to an article from the New York Times. The story focused on efforts to prevent Asian hornets from spreading.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture verified four reports of Asian giant hornets near Blaine and Bellingham, which are the first sightings in the United States. In September, the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture warned residents about three of the insects found on Vancouver Island. British Columbians are asked to report possible sightings.

WSDA said Asian giant hornets attack honeybees and can destroy a hive in hours. This is during what’s called a “slaughter phase,” where the hornets kill bees by decapitating them. According to Washington State University, they are capable of stinging multiple times, which can be deadly to humans. They are not typically interested in people or pets, but will attack if their nest is disturbed.

“They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” said Susan Cobey, bee breeder with Washington State University’s Department of Entomology.

The hornets are more than 2 inches long and only nest in the ground. The British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture said they can be mistaken with bald faced hornets, yellow jackets and horntail wasps.

It is not known how they first arrived in North America.

The Ohio State University Buckeye Yard and Garden Online said Asian giant hornets have not been found in Ohio.

More information on Asian giant hornets here

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