Asian Giant Hornet Collected in Washington State

The Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, was collected at a farm in Blaine, Washington and the USDA has confirmed the identification.  Blaine, Washington is located in the northwestern corner of Washington on the Canadian border. This hornet specimen was found dead at a farmhouse.  A live individual was also reported earlier but not collected (or confirmed).  Contrary to many reports on the Internet, this is the first, and only, location in the United States where this insect has been found.

Figure 1. Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia. (Photo: Allan Smith-Pardo; Bugwood.com)

The Asian giant hornet is a federal quarantine pest.  Vespa mandarinia is the World’s largest vespid wasp; its workers are about 1-1/2 inches in length and queens as long as 2 inches. It is native to tropical and temperate Asia, including much of Japan.  For more information, see the following Wikipedia article. Asian giant hornet is infamous for conducting group raids on colonies of European honey bees, which can result in the complete destruction of those honey bee colonies.

While this collection is a new U.S. record, the wasp was also reported recently from nearby Vancouver Island in British Columbia (BC).  Both the circumstances of the specimen from Washington and the presence of the wasp in BC imply the hornet is likely established in the environment.

 

Ric Bessin, Jonathan Larson, Extension Entomologists and Joe Collins, Deputy State Entomologist

 

Posted in Human Pests