Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia

The impression Asian giant hornet or ‘Murder Hornet’ as it has been deemed, has arrived in the continental US.

As of May 4, 2020, near Blaine, in Washington state, two reported sightings of this hornet have been reported. This impressive hornet is the largest in the world. With a length of up to two inches and a wingspan of three inches, this hornet is truly a ‘giant’.

How did Asian Murder Hornets enter the US?

No one truly knows. Late in 2019 a nest of Asian hornets was found and destroyed near Nanaimo, Canada, which is not far from Washington State. However, genetic testing has determined those found in Canada and those in Washington are from different colonies.

What threats does the Asian giant hornet present?

The Asian giant hornet is a veracious feeder. They will decimate honeybee colonies by biting the heads of the honeybees and then feed on the hives honey and larvae. They then return to their hive to feed their young. They will travel a half dozen miles to find food.

Their venom is also highly toxic. The sting from fifty or fewer of these hornets can cause death to a human, primarily due to kidney failure.

What should I do if I see one?

It is highly unlikely we will see these on the East Coast anytime soon. Since they are now a top news story a lot is being done to locate and destroy any hives that might be present. However, there is no evidence to suggest they are widespread in the Pacific Northwest.

There is a similar hornet, the European Hornet, Vespa crabro, which was introduced in the 1800s by European settlers. Prior to the Asian hornet’s appearance, the European hornet was the only ‘true’ hornet in North America.

In the unlikely event you have found an Asian hornet or more likely a European hornet, please call your local Rutgers Cooperative extension office, NJ DEP or Dial Environmental to help assist in proper identification and remediation. NEVER EVER APPROACH A STINGING INSECT NEST.

National Geographic

Washington State University