By Elizabeth Gamillo/Smithsonianmag.com
On August 12, Washington state entomologists confirmed this year’s first live sighting of an Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia)—also known as a murder hornet for its ability to decimate honeybee hives, according to NPR’s Scott Neuman. The hornet was found attacking a paper wasp nest in a rural town east of Blaine, Washington—only two miles away from where the first live nest in the United States was eradicated in fall 2020.
The orange-and-black striped Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) measures up to a hefty two inches with a three-inch wingspan, making it the biggest hornet on the planet. Its piked mandibles strong enough to rip the heads off honeybees, and potent venom earn it the nickname, the murder hornet. The insects are native to East Asia and Japan but have spread to other regions, like the United States.
“This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year – attacking paper wasp nests,” said Washington state entomologist Sven Spichiger said in a statement.