Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) say Asian giant hornets have been spotted in Washington state, the first time anywhere in the United States.
Beekeepers have reported piles of dead bees with their heads ripped off, an alarming sight in a country with a rapidly declining bee population. The world’s largest hornets, that can kill humans if stung multiple times, have earned their nickname, “murder hornets.”
WSU entomologist and beekeeper Susan Cobey said the bees are like “something out of a monster cartoon,” with a large yellow orange face. She said the bees were first discovered in December and she and her fellow scientists are worried the insects will begin to emerge this spring.
The researchers are working with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, beekeepers, and citizens to find the hornets, study them, and stop their spread.
It’s not known how or where the hornet first arrived in North America, possibly in international cargo shipments, or perhaps brought here deliberately.
While generally not aggressive towards people or pets, the hornets can attack if provoked, Cobey said.