The dead insect, nicknamed the “murder hornet,” found in Marysville, Washington, was dried out and emerged earlier than usual, so it may have been an “old hornet from a previous season that wasn’t discovered until now,” said Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, during a press conference.
The dead hornet’s color markings were different than past hornets sighted in Washington, indicating it may not have been related to other giant hornets identified over the past years.
“I want to very much clarify that a single dead specimen does not indicate a population, and for that reason, we will be taking some extra precautions and getting traps up in the area,” Spichiger said. “But at this time, there is not enough evidence to support that a population exists in Snohomish County.”
Spichiger said he believes the hornet “died in a protected place and maybe (had) fallen out and landed on the lawn there.”
“If it becomes established, this hornet will have negative impacts on the environment, economy, and public health of Washington State,” the state’s department of agriculture website says.
“This new report continues to underscore how important public reporting is for all suspected invasive species, but especially Asian giant hornets,” Spichiger said. “None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report.”
“Murder hornets” became a viral phenomenon in 2020 for their tendencies to decapitate honeybees and feed honeybee larvae to their young after attacking beehives. Many people included them on a running list of bad things happening during the year, along with the coronavirus pandemic.