BLAINE, Wash. (NEXSTAR) – There’s no need to revive the “murder hornet” invasion panic we experienced a few months back, but agricultural officials in Washington state say they have confirmed a few sightings in recent days.
The Asian giant hornet gets its nickname from it’s propensity to slaughter other insects.
“Asian giant hornet attacks and destroys honeybee hives. A few hornets can destroy a hive in a matter of hours. The hornets enter a “slaughter phase” where they kill bees by decapitating them,” writes the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
When the first sightings in the United States began last year, the murder hornet name set off a bit of a panic on social media. Though no mass invasion is underway, the WSDA is confirming some new sightings this season.
“After a no confirmed sightings for a few weeks, one person in the Blaine area reported several sights of Asian giant hornets. Two specimens were collected,” wrote the Washington State Department of Agriculture in a Facebook post. “Another was photographed attacking a wasp nest.”
In August the same agency issued a press release indicating that they had trapped the first male Asian giant hornet detected in the United States. Also known by the scientific name Vespa mandarinia, the hornets are the largest in the world. Their stingers are longer than a traditional bees and their venom is more toxic. The WSDA says they don’t attack humans or pets unless they feel threatened.
To get a sense of size, look at the photo above, which shows the hornets captured outside the city of Blaine next to a common yellow jacket.
The hornets are known to do the most damage to beehives in late summer and early fall, according to CBS News.
Officials have previously said that they are attempting to tag the hornets using hundreds of traps, trace them back to the colony and destroy them.