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'Murder hornets' spotted in US pose threat to honeybees

Posted at 12:43 PM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-03 15:55:06-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) are an invasive species recently spotted in the United States for the first time.

Nicknamed "murder hornets" by researchers, they've reportedly been attacking beehives in Washington state, leaving piles of dead, headless bees outside their beehive.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture says they are not typically aggressive toward humans, but they do have have a venomous sting and pose a threat to honeybees and all of the crops they pollinate.

Asian giant hornets are also strong enough to puncture a beekeeper's suit.

Researchers say the hornets can be more than two inches long.

Photo of an Asian giant hornet. Source: Washington State Department of Agriculture

If you are stung, the WSDA says:

If you are stung, [Department of Health] recommends washing the site thoroughly with soap and water and applying ice or a cold compress to reduce swelling. The agency also recommends an antihistamine or use of an anti-itch cream to reduce itching if necessary. If you are stung multiple times or have symptoms of a severe reaction following a sting, call 911 or seek medical care immediately.

Additional information about bee and wasp stings and prevention measures can be found on the DOH website.

The WSDA asks anyone outside of Washington state who wishes to report a "murder hornet" sighting should contact their state's department of agriculture -- not the WSDA -- as they can only assist with reports of suspected sightingings in Washington state.