Murder hornet 2021 – Giant-size wasp insect found near Seattle in first US sighting this year

A GIANT hornet capable of killing humans and wiping out entire beehives was discovered north of Seattle on Wednesday, causing major concerns for authorities.

It was the first sighting of the dangerous "murder hornet" in North America this year.

A resident found the dead hornet on his lawn in Snohomish County on June 4 and reported it immediately to agriculture officials.

Scientists have warned for months that the killer species poses a massive public health threat.

Asian Giant Hornets can use their sharp jaws to tear through human skin, one expert has said.

Read of Murder Hornets live blog for all the latest news and updates

  • Frances Mulraney

    TAGGED MURDER HORNETS

    Murder hornets in the USwere tagged with radios last year so scientists could track down their nests.

    The 'murder hornets' are being taggedCredit: WASHINGTON STATE DEPT OF AGRICULTURE
  • Frances Mulraney

    QUEEN HORNET NABBED

    Video shows the shocking moment a queen murder hornet was nabbed after scientists tracked down the next.

    According to Science Alert, the team cut into the tree some days later and found two queens, worker hornets, larvae and developing adult hornets.

    Scientists nab TWO ‘murder hornet’ queens on return trip to clear out hive

  • Frances Mulraney

    WILL MURDER HORNETS SPREAD IN THE US?

    Scientists fear the problem of murder hornets could continue for several years and spread to other areas of the US.

    They began tracking the hornets with radios last year in order to find nests and detroy them.

  • Frances Mulraney

    WHAT RISK IS POSED BY A MURDER HORNET?

    Murder hornets kill around 50 people in Asia every year.

    Their sting can cause both cardiac arrest and anaphylactic shock.

    They pose a massive threat to bees and will destroy entire hives in hours as they try to get to the honey.

  • Frances Mulraney

    WHAT IS IN A MURDER HORNET'S STING?

    The insects also have a large stinger filled with venom that contains a neurotoxin, which is capable of causing both cardiac arrest and anaphylactic shock.

    The bugs have a sting that one victim described as "having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh."

  • Frances Mulraney

    HOW DID MURDER HORNETS GET TO THE US?

    Experts believe that they are sometimes transported in international cargo, in some cases deliberately.

    The first nest was spotted in the US late last year.

  • Frances Mulraney

    HOW LONG IS A MURDER HORNET?

    The murder hornet is over two inches long. They are the world's largest hornets.

    The hornet has a body length of 5cm (2 in), a wingspan around 7.5cm (3 in).

    The stinger is 6mm (0.24 in) long and injects a large amount of potent venom.

  • Frances Mulraney

    WHAT DOES A MURDER HORNET LOOK LIKE?

    The hornet has orange and black stripes that extend down its body like a tiger, and wings like a dragonfly.

    The insects also have a large stinger filled with venom that contains a neurotoxin, which is capable of causing both cardiac arrest and anaphylactic shock.

  • Frances Mulraney

    WHERE CAN YOU FIND MURDER HORNETS?

    The world's largest hornet is only normally spotted in parts of Asia and Russia.

    The deadly creatures were spotted for the first time in the US in late 2019.

  • Frances Mulraney

    MURDER HORNETS IN US

    Authorities have been struggling to tackle the Asian giant hornet issue ever since the deadly creatures were spotted for the first time in the US late last year.

    The first nest of 'murder hornets' ever spotted in North America was successfully eradicated in November last year.

  • Frances Mulraney

    HUNDREDS OF MURDER HORNETS

    The first “murder hornet” nest found in Washington state had five hundred of the killer insects – with almost 200 queens – living inside of it.

    The nest of Asian giant hornets, which was found in Whatcom County in October, was said to be the size of a basketball and was located in a tree.

    State agriculture officials said on Tuesday that roughly 500 specimens in “various stages of development” were discovered inside the nest.

  • Frances Mulraney

    HORNET KILLS MAN IN SPAIN

    In May last year a man in Spain was killed by a hornet.

    The victim, from Villestro in Galicia, was stung on the eyebrow by what was believed to have been the killer bug while tending to a beehive he owned, according to local media.

  • Frances Mulraney

    MURDER HORNETS TAGGED WITH TRACKER

    Last year, murder hornets in the US were fitted with trackable radio tags so their nests can be discovered and destroyed.

    Researchers at Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) decided to use the radio tracking method on the hornets.

    This involved catching murder hornets, fitting a tag and then tracking them to their famously elusive nests.

    This led them to a tree were they sucked out 85 hornets and caught 13 more in a net.

  • Frances Mulraney

    'CHEW THROUGH SKIN'

    Asian Giant Hornets can use their sharp jaws to tear through human skin, one expert has said.

    Dr. Samuel Ramsey has been "sounding the alarm about this insect for months".

    "It is a very large insect. About the size of your thumb. It has these very sharp, large mandibles that are attached to these really big muscles that allow it to chew through a lot of different fabrics," he told WUSA.

    "They can chew through skin, and they also have a really long stinger," he described.

    The dead insect was found north of Seattle on June 4
  • Frances Mulraney

    CICADA KILLER WASPS V MURDER HORNET

    Cicada killers are the “gentle giants” of the wasp world, experts told the New York Post.

    Females only attack when they feel threatened, they say.

    The male wasps don't even have stingers.

  • Frances Mulraney

    WASP V HORNET

    The Washington State Department of Agriculture has warned that many people are confusing cicada killers of murder hornets.

    It has been flooded with messages from people who have spotted the harmless wasp.

    “I couldn’t even begin to guess how many we’ve gotten,” WSDA spokesperson Karla Salp told the New York Post.

    “Tons of them.

  • Frances Mulraney

    'PRETTY FREAKY'

    Americans have been confusing gentle cicada killers for murder hornets after the first was spotted in Seattle on Wednesday.

    A Massachusetts woman told The New York Post she’d found “pretty freaky” murder hornet, which appeared to be about 1.5 inches long.

    Yet it turned out to be the harmless cicada killer.

  • Katie Balevic

    NYPD'S BEE UNIT PREPARED FOR MURDER HORNET INVASION

    The NYPD's Bee Unit is preparing for a possible Murder Hornet invasion on the East Coast as they prey on honey bees, an endangered population.

    The US Department of Agriculture has said that the hornets could still gain foothold in the mainland US, so officials are now scrambling to save the bees.

    Many experts have advised people to leave the hornets alone if they spot them.

    Hundreds of the species were found in Canada and south of the border in Washington in 2019 and 2020.

  • Katie Balevic

    PUBLIC AWARENESS WILL STOP SPREAD OF HORNETS

    After the hornet was discovered in Seattle, Sven Spichiger, the managing entomologist for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, thanked social media for its quick capture.

    "This new report continues to underscore how important public reporting is for all suspected invasive species, but especially Asian giant hornets," Spichiger said.

    "None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report."

    "Murder hornets" became a viral phenomenon in 2020 for their tendencies to decapitate honeybees and feed honeybee larvae to their young after attacking beehives."

    "Many people included them on a running list of bad things happening during the year, along with the coronavirus pandemic."

  • Katie Balevic

    HORNETS CAN ‘TEAR THROUGH HUMAN SKIN’

    Scientists have warned for months that the killer species poses a massive public health threat.

    Asian Giant Hornets can use their sharp jaws to tear through human skin, one expert has said.

    Dr. Samuel Ramsey has been “sounding the alarm about this insect for months”.

    “It is a very large insect. About the size of your thumb. It has these very sharp, large mandibles that are attached to these really big muscles that allow it to chew through a lot of different fabrics,” he told WUSA.

    “They can chew through skin, and they also have a really long stinger,” he described.

  • Katie Balevic

    MURDER HORNET FOUND WAS "UNUSUAL" IN COLOR

    The murder hornet discovered in Seattle was "unusual," said Sven Spichiger, adding that the stripes found on this hornet indicate it was likely dead compared to hornets that died more recently.

    The Washington Department of Agriculture showed a handy graphic detailing the colors.

  • Katie Balevic

    COLONY OF MURDER HORNETS LIKELY DOES NOT EXIST IN SEATTLE

    After the hornet was found in Seattle this month, many are worried this means there are plenty more to come.

    Sven Spichiger, the managing entomologist for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, said that's likely not the case.

    "I want to very much clarify that a single dead specimen does not indicate a population, and for that reason, we will be taking some extra precautions and getting traps up in the area," Spichiger said.

    "But at this time, there is not enough evidence to support that a population exists in Snohomish County."

  • Katie Balevic

    EXPERTS SAY THE HORNET FOUND IN SEATTLE WAS A MALE

    The hornet found in Seattle on June 4 was a male, entomologists say.

    The officials, who retrieved the insect on June 8, said it was likely an old hornet from a previous season.

    “The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge,” said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s quarantine program.

    Officials added that males don't usually emerge until July, and there is no obvious path for how the insect got to Marysville, Washington.

  • Katie Balevic

    HORNETS KILL 50 PEOPLE PER YEAR IN JAPAN

    Murder Hornets’ poisonous venom can destroy human cells and sends signals of constant pain to human nerves.

    The deadly insects have been known to kill up to 50 people a year in their native country Japan, Ramsey said.

  • Katie Balevic

    MURDER HORNET NEST WITH 200 QUEENS FOUND

    The first “murder hornet” nest found in Washington state had five hundred of the killer insects – with almost 200 queens  living inside of it.

    The nest of Asian giant hornets, which was found in Whatcom County in October, was said to be the size of a basketball and was located in a tree.

    State agriculture officials said on Tuesday that roughly 500 specimens in “various stages of development” were discovered inside the nest.

    Close to 200 queen hornets were found, entomologist Sven-Erik Spichiger said, adding that 76 were “grown virgins, which have the potential to leave, mate and then start their own nests.”

    “It really seems we got there just in the nick of time,″ Spichiger told local news outlets. 

    “There’s no way for us to ever be certain whether we got them all.”

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