Giant “murder hornets” have been a problem for months now, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).
The hornets, whose real name is the Asian giant hornet, were spotted for the first time in the US near Blaine back in December of 2019.
Since then, giant hornets have confirmed to have been spotted in Bellingham, Custer, and most recently, in Birch Bay.
On August 18, a sighting of the hornet was reported in Birch Bay. One day later, an Asian giant hornet was confirmed to be trapped in the city.
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The hornets attack and destroy honeybee hives and are not known to impact entire populations of other insects.
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According to the WSDA, “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. They then defend the hive as their own, taking the brood to feed their own young.”
So while you’re not likely to see Asian giant hornets themselves, you may see the aftermath of an attack: piles of dead bees, most of them headless.
While the giant hornets aren’t known to deliberately attack humans, they may do so if a nest is disturbed. The hornets will attack with painful stings, which can be hazardous to your health. If you are stung, reduce inflammation and the spread of the venom by placing an ice cube or cold compact on the affected area. Do not rub the site of the sting; doing so will promote the venom to flow to surrounding tissues.
Those who are stung multiple times (10 or more) are more susceptible to developing a toxic or allergic reaction, including lightheadedness or dizziness, and must immediately seek medical attention.