BLAINE, WASH. – Washington state farm workers arrested their first Asian giant hornet.
The hornet was found on July 14 in a bottle trap north of Seattle, near the Canadian border, and state entomologists confirmed their identity on Wednesday, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
The giant Asian hornet, the largest in the world at two inches, can decimate entire bee hives and cause a painful sting in humans. Northwest farmers depend on these bees to pollinate many crops, such as apples, blueberries and cherries.
The invasive insect was first documented in the state at the end of last year and officials said it is not known how it got to North America. He normally lives in the forests and low mountains of East and Southeast Asia.
The drone recently trapped in Washington is the first one found in a trap, not in the environment, as were the state’s previous five confirmed sightings.
“This is encouraging because it means that we know the traps work,” said Sven Spichiger, the department’s managing entomologist, in a press release. “But it also means that we have work to do.”
The state now plans to search for nests using infrared cameras and set additional traps that attempt to catch live wasps. If they catch live wasps, the agriculture department will try to tag and track them back to their colony so that the colony can be eradicated.
The authorities hope to destroy any nest by mid-September, before the colony begins to breed new breeding queens.