OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), and USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) found the first Asian giant hornet nest of 2021 on Thursday, August 19. The nest was in a rural area east of Blaine, Washington, about one-quarter mile from where a resident reported a sighting of a live Asian giant hornet on August 11, 2021, the first sighting of 2021.
WSDA narrowed the search area by August 17 but was unable to access the location until Thursday, August 19, 2021. A WSDA tracking team and a team of USDA APHIS and ODA staff searched the area beginning this morning at 7:30 a.m. with the USDA APHIS and ODA team spotting the nest about 9:15 a.m.
“I was glad to be able to share what I learned last year with our ODA collaborators,” said Stacy Herron, a USDA APHIS plant health safeguarding specialist who assisted WSDA on the hornet project last year. “Finding the nest with ODA one day after simulating tagging and tracking in training was a very rewarding experience and demonstrates just how valuable the WSDA training was.”
“It’s an honor to be a part of this innovative pest prevention work in Washington,” said Jake Bodart, ODA Insect Pest Prevention Management program manager, said. “While Asian giant hornets have not yet been detected in Oregon, we are pleased to participate and learn first-hand from our partners on what it takes to respond to introductions of this emerging pest.”
“Teamwork has been the key to success with this effort,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said. “Whether it is the public reporting sightings and building traps or state and federal agencies working together, this is really a model for success in invasive species management.”
WSDA netted, tagged with a radio tracker and released three hornets between Aug. 11 – Aug. 17. One hornet slipped out of the tracking device, another hornet was never located, and one eventually led the team to the nest.
WSDA entomologists will now develop their plans to eradicate the nest, most likely next week.
Asian giant hornets are not native to the U.S. They are the world’s largest hornet and prey on honey bees and other insects. These hornets may attack honey bee hives in the late summer or early fall. A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.
In 2013, at least 41 people were killed and over 1,600 people were injured by stings from Asian giant hornets when multiple nest infestations occurred in China. Deaths have been attributed to anaphylaxis, cardiotoxicity, and multiple organ failure. In a study in Japan, researchers found that the mean number of stings that caused death was 59 stings.
While one nest has been located near Blaine, Washington, there may still be more. The public is still asked to report suspected Asian giant hornet sightings at agr.wa.gov/hornets in Washington State. While no Asian giant hornets have been found in Oregon, suspected sightings can be reported at oda.fyi/HornetReport
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Jessica Rendon from ODA and Stacy Herron from USDA APHIS locate an Asian giant hornet nest
Asian giant hornet nest entrance
Asian giant hornet flying with bent radio tag wire