The Asian giant hornet season of 2021 begins shortly, and agencies have reached out to the public for help so they can contain and trap them.
Summer is almost around the corner and so are murder hornets who most definitely don't care about the days getting longer. It is during the warmer months when murder hornets thrive, and scientists in the US and Canada are getting ready for the next Asian giant hornet season of 2021 in the upcoming summer and fall. "In the coming year, Washington state, British Columbia and US federal agencies are gearing up and collaborating on their plans to track, trap and eradicate any Asian giant hornets they find," wrote the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in a release.
Yes, they have "murder" in their name but don't worry, these insects are after honeybees, not humans. Describing the Asian giant hornets as an "invasive pest" that department explains how it "threatens pollinators and ignores international borders." This species of hornets is known for its enormous size and cartoonish faces, and a penchant for beheading honeybees. The toxic venom in Asian giant hornets can easily damage tissue in humans if they sting. They can be deadly, but it's rare.
The species of hornet destroys honeybee hives in a matter of hours when they attack. They also decapitate the bees during what scientists refer to as the "slaughter phase." Following the attack, they take over the hive and feed the honey bee eggs and larvae to their own young offsprings. Although Asian giant hornets do attack other insects, they are not known to be as vicious as they are with honeybees i.e. decimating entire populations quickly. According to CNN, the species was first sighted in the U.S. in Washington state back in 2019 right after it was observed in the fall in British Columbia.
It remains unclear how these hornets arrived in the U.S. from their native Asia, but possible theories surmise that they may have made their way to the States via international container ships, travelers visiting or returning to the country from Asia, or with purchases shipped into the U.S. During the summer of 2020, the Asian giant hornets created quite a buzz around the Pacific Northwest and Canada region after emerging from their hibernation to build nests and colonies. This year, the WSDA and other agencies have begun making preparations for the summer and fall of 2021.
"Washington's plans remain similar to last year's response, including a strong emphasis on public outreach, reporting, and trapping in addition to the agency's trapping," noted the department. As for experts, they have urged citizens to start setting traps for hornets in July using brown sugar or orange juice-based baits. "The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) will continue to use orange juice and rice cooking wine in traps while citizen scientists will have the option of using either the orange juice or a brown sugar-based bait...Residents in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island, Jefferson, and Clallam counties are especially encouraged to participate in citizen scientist trapping beginning in July." it reads.
People also have to keep in mind to report these hornet sightings so that it is contained. "Last year, half of the confirmed reports in Washington and all of the confirmed reports in British Columbia were from members of the public," said the release. "Washington residents are asked to continue to report all sightings of Asian giant hornet to WSDA at agr.wa.gov/hornets, via email at [email protected], or by calling 1-800-443-6684."