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This post is meant to be cautionary. Doubt it if you must, but the Giant Asian Hornet has been verified in Washington state this year. This past June I encountered a Giant Asian Hornet in SE Alabama. I was moving dead brush around the homestead and sweating in the midday summer heat when I heard what I thought was a hummingbird hovering above my head. When I stopped walking to look up at it I was shocked as it wasn't a hummingbird but a giant hornet, hovering, definitely stalking me. It apparently didn't like that my eyes locked onto it because immediately it dropped down, first hovering onto one side of my head, and then zipped back over to the other side, and then it darted directly in front of my nose, looking into my eyes. I could feel the breeze from its wings. It was bullying me to see what my intentions were, and it was menacing, goading me to see if I would get aggressive with it. I am familiar with our native hornets, wasps, and even the Cicada Killer and I do have a Masters degree in Agronomy. I know my pests. I don't know how long it had me in a stalemate, but it was sufficient for me to burn its image into my brain. I know of the Asian Hornet from written sources, and THIS was one in every detail. Right down to the rich brown thorax and orange head. In a brief moment of rational thinking I reconsidered snatching off my baseball cap and swatting at it. I've read the Asian hornet is attracted to human sweat, shows no fear, and can move at mach speed, and I recalled the adverse effects of a sting, and my dominant thought was how am I going to get out of this ALIVE? I was about to go cross-eyed when it suddenly made up its mind I was a mama's boy, and it zipped up vertically, and then zoomed off horizontally at about 30-40 mph. I watched it out of sight. And was overcome with relief, which was replaced by the adrenaline built of what I had just encountered.

I only ask that you be aware and keep alert for this invasive beast. A queen can produce 30 new queens each season, new queens will mate upon exiting the hive in the fall, will overwinter, and nest in the spring; it can travel 60 miles in a single day, at top speeds of 25 mph in pursuit of prey. Unless I did my math wrong, exponentially in 10 years one mated queen could assure they are present at every bee social in the continental.

Here is an abstract from the web.

The Japanese, or Asian, Giant Hornet is a killer. An invasive species that seems intent on a manifest destiny — if such a thing exists with insects. The stinger of the Asian Giant Hornet is 1/4 inch long and because it has no barb, the Asian Giant Hornet is able to sting its victims multiple times. The venom injected by the stinger is incredibly potent and contains eight different chemicals, each with a specific purpose. These range from tissue degeneration and breathing difficulties, to making the sting more painful and even attracting other hornets to the victim. Adult working hornets can be nearly two inches long, with queens topping out at as much as three inches. Workers have three-inch wingspans. Those who have been attacked by this horrid creature always say they can’t believe the sheer size and ferocious menacing temper of these winged warlocks. They are so large that when they fly quickly around, some people have mistook them as hummingbirds, according to some reports. The Asian Giant Hornet is a relentless hunter and only a few are said to be able to completely wipe out a 30,000+ Honeybee colony in a couple of hours. The saliva produced by the larvae of the Asian Giant Hornet is said to give them their renowned energy and stamina when consumed on a regular basis. They can travel up to 60 miles in a single day, at a top speed of 25 mph, a speed more akin to the flight velocities of small birds. Aside from honey bees, Asian giant hornet also eats wasps, praying mantis and other hornets. Asian giant hornet does not hesitate to attack humans.

The species builds subterranean nests in cavities that it digs itself or that have already been dug by small rodents. These nests also can be found near rotted pine roots, in tree hollows, and even in urban structures. Nests are guarded aggressively. By the late summer, the population of the colony is at its peak with around 700 workers, most of which are female. The queen then begins to produce fertilised (female) and non-fertilised (male) eggs.
 

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Methinks it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination if a queen survived the trip overseas to the west coast on a ship, she could survive getting thru the Panama Canal to the SE coast.
 

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From last September, article has good photos of the stuff.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/asian-giant-hornet-next-destroyed-nanaimo-1.5290691

I have met with the folks in Nanaimo that found and eradicated a lone nest of Giant Asian Hornet (Vespa Mandarinia) here on Vancouver Island. During the process, many specimens were kept, some went off to various labs for formal identification, others kept and put into an acrylic housing of sorts for show and tell. I was at the Nanaimo club meeting about a week after the event and they had some comb with larvaa in it we could look at. Here was the really astonishing bit. The piece in question had been out of the nest for 6 days if I remember the number correctly. During that time it had been in the fridge for a few days, and two days in a freezer to kill the larvae. That stuff was still wiggling, apparently still alive.

After the reports of the first nest erradication went public, many more reports of possible nests came in, but all turned out to be common native varieties, no more of the mandarinia were found last fall. There will be a concerted effort to find and destroy any more nests discovered this year.

For folks interested, the nest is in the ground and just digging it up is pretty dangerous as the sting from these things is pretty drastic, and a handful of stings can disable / kill you. They can sting thru a bee suit, stinger is pretty long. The way the Nanaimo folks approached the nest was 3 layers of sweaters under a bee suit. Carbon Dioxide is used to anesthetize the nest before starting to dig into it. Lots of ways to do that, but the easiest, use a CO2 fire extinguisher. They were using alcohol to kill the individual hornets as they dug em up. In southern areas maybe not so common, in our part of the world, blue windshield washer fluid available at every corner store will do the trick. Flood the nest with CO2 to put them to sleep, then a bath in the alcohol will finish the job. The one thing they mentioned, it takes a LOT of alcohol, they had only 300 hornets by the time it was done, but they did run out of alcohol.

The way this one was found is an interesting story. An observant beekeeper noticed the thing approaching one of her hives, and she actually caught it into a bottle, forwarded to the provincial apiarist. That provided a positive identification, then the provincial folks got a few more reported sightings over the next couple weeks. All the locations of sightings were plotted on a map which then clearly showed which area of town to be looking in. A couple of the folks involved had deduced where in that circle were areas that mandarinia would find suitable for nesting, and one of those areas was a park with a walking path along the creek, so they went for a walk after dinner. Less than 5 minutes into the walk they saw one flying and started beelining after one of them was stung. They had the nest located in a few minutes, in the brush beside the path. That set the process in motion, and by midnight the nest had been dealt with.
 

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@ Lonepoet

Did you report this to your local or state agricultural department? Has anyone investigated this to try and locate the nest?
 

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I have doubts as to whether or not this will ever become an actual threat.
I am sure the person who brought varroa or small hive beetles into Europe and the new world said the same thing. Any introduced species has the ability to wreak havoc in their new environment. Spending the resources now to eliminate it will hopefully save a lot of headache in the future.
 

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I am certainly keeping track of this as it is not that far away from me. I normally put meat based traps pot for yellow jackets. I wonder how much of it these Asian Giant Hornets would have to eat before they die?
 

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Just a small note from Central New York. I have a hornet here that has been attacking my hives for the past few years it is over 1 inch in size and it comes in groups of 4 to 8 of them on a hive. I go out with a fly swatter (home apiary) and pop them. They seem to do a number on my hives. I have twiddled down from 100 hives to just 5 now since I'm older and have had spinal surgery. Thinking of making a trap out of gallon jugs to catch them before they kill off my hives. Looks like a constant battle for my little ladies.
 

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Just a small note from Central New York. I have a hornet here that has been attacking my hives for the past few years it is over 1 inch in size and it comes in groups of 4 to 8 of them on a hive. I go out with a fly swatter (home apiary) and pop them. They seem to do a number on my hives. I have twiddled down from 100 hives to just 5 now since I'm older and have had spinal surgery. Thinking of making a trap out of gallon jugs to catch them before they kill off my hives. Looks like a constant battle for my little ladies.
You should get a pic or two if you can to identify them...
 

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Just a small note from Central New York. I have a hornet here that has been attacking my hives for the past few years it is over 1 inch in size and it comes in groups of 4 to 8 of them on a hive. I go out with a fly swatter (home apiary) and pop them. They seem to do a number on my hives. I have twiddled down from 100 hives to just 5 now since I'm older and have had spinal surgery. Thinking of making a trap out of gallon jugs to catch them before they kill off my hives. Looks like a constant battle for my little ladies.
If you are talking about the gallon jug that Rusty Burlew had on her site it does work. I had them sitting right on top of my hives last year. It was truly amazing how many yellow jackets, wasps, wax moth, flies, etc. and not one honey bee was attracted to it. I haven’t seen any of the big hornets here but I know they are around. Good luck, I hope the recipe gets those big hornets too.
 

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I haven’t seen any of the big hornets here but I know they are around.
Are you saying you have the giant asian hornet (vespa mandarinia) there ? They are WAY bigger than the ones in your image showing different species and relative sizes.
 

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No not the really gigantic ones, the one in the pic which are large. We had our bees on a property that had a nest in a little greenhouse. The owner asked my husband to take a look at a nest; my husband opened the door got a look at them and closed the door again, he wouldn’t go near them. I don’t know what the guy did, we moved our hives off.
 

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So here is what a normal sized hornet looks like in a queen clip. Imagine one that won't fit.

20180910_223330.jpg
 
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