The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has trapped a male Asian giant hornet – the first male Asian giant hornet to be detected in the U.S.
The hornet was caught in a WSDA Asian giant hornet bottle trap near Custer, Whatcom County, WA, where a mated queen was found dead earlier this year and a suspected bee kill was reported in 2019. The trap was collected July 29 and processed in WSDA’s entomology lab Aug. 13.
“Trapping a male Asian giant hornet in July initially came as a surprise,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA Managing Entomologist said. “But further examination of the research and consultation with international experts confirmed that a few males can indeed emerge early in the season.”
WSDA will be setting live traps in the area in an attempt to trap a live Asian giant hornet, tag it, and track it back to its nest. If WSDA is able to locate a nest, the agency will eradicate it.
This is the second Asian giant hornet caught in a WSDA trap. The first was caught on July 14. Entomologists from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) subsequently identified that hornet as an unmated queen. The two trapped specimens bring the total number of Asian giant hornets detected in the state to seven – all of them in Whatcom County.
In addition to the traps that WSDA has set to catch Asian giant hornets, citizen scientists and other cooperators have placed more than 1,400 traps throughout the state. Those interested in trapping can still build and set traps on their own property. Traps require weekly bait replacement and a commitment to mail the trap contents to WSDA if bees or wasps are collected. If a citizen scientist traps a live Asian giant hornet, they should call the WSDA Pest Program hotline at 1-800-443-6684.
Because Asian giant hornet workers increase as a colony develops, they are most likely seen in August and September. If you think you have seen one, report it at agr.wa.gov/hornets. Provide as much detail as you can about what you saw and where. Include a photo if you can safely obtain one. If you come across a dead specimen keep it for potential testing.