If you’ve noticed a sudden increase in hornets near where you live, you may wonder whether any of these are part of the Vespa mandarinia species of Asian Giant Hornets. These hornets have recently garnered a lot of attention in the media, resulting in increased reports of potential sightings coming in from across Colorado.
Here are the facts about Asian Giant Hornets:
- They are not native to the United States.
- They earned their nickname "Murder Hornet" because, along with other insect prey, they decapitate honey bees, also not native to the United States.
- In the United States, the Asian Giant Hornet has only been found in Whatcom County in Washington State near the Canadian border. None have been positively identified in Colorado or any other state.
- In Washington State, 31 hornets were found in 2020.
- In 2021, three were found prior to the location and eradication of a nest containing ~1,500 hornets.
It is important to note that Asian Giant Hornet has not been found outside of Washington State. While many individuals are reporting suspected Asian Giant hornets, what they are most often seeing are either the Cicada Killer, Bald Faced Hornet, Pigeon Horntail, or Tarantula Hawk wasp. (See images below, courtesy of NC State Extension and Palomar College.)
What to do if you suspect you have seen an Asian Giant Hornet:
- Keep calm. Odds are likely that what you have seen is one of the wasps below.
- If you still believe that what you have seen is an Asian Giant Hornet, take a photo or try to capture it in a jar or plastic zip lock bag.
- Take the sample specimen or email the photo to your county CSU Extension office. They will need the following information about the sighting:
- the date
- your name and contact info.
- Or, you can bring or email the photo to CDA with the same information as above.
If you suspect you’ve seen a Giant Asian Hornet or need help identifying an insect, you can email your photo to email@example.com.
Read more about the effort to eradicate the Asian Giant Hornets from the United States at the New York Times.
Images below courtesy of North Carolina State University Extension. You can find an interactive identification guide on the NCSU website.