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Asian giant hornet trapping continues in these Bellingham parks and green spaces

The Bellingham Herald logoThe Bellingham Herald 7/15/2020 By Kie Relyea, The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

Bottle traps have been set for the Asian giant hornet, a burly killer of honeybees, in 10 parks and green spaces in Bellingham.

Nine volunteers have agreed to monitor the 12 Bellingham traps from now through October, according to Amy Brown, volunteer coordinator for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The citizen scientists also set up the traps, which are clear plastic bottles that contain a mixture of orange juice and rice cooking wine or sake.

They did so as part of the Park Steward program, according to Brown.

Two dead hornets have been reported found in Whatcom County this year, most recently in northeast Bellingham on June 6.

The other hornet was found more than 15 miles away near Custer on May 27.

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Together, they were the first and second confirmed sighting of the invasive hornet in Washington state in 2020, as well as in the U.S.

The invasive pests are known known for their painful sting when threatened and feared for the threat they pose to honeybees — they can decimate hives quickly — and, by extension, the hundreds of crops in Washington state that the bees pollinate.

Brown said the traps were set up in:

? Cornwall Park.

? Sehome Hill Arboretum.

? Big Rock Garden Park.

? Fairhaven Park/Hundred Acre Wood.

? Connelly Creek Nature Area.

? Euclid Park.

? Sunset Pond.

? Whatcom Falls.

? Galbraith.

? Northridge Park.

The project occurred after Cassie Cichorz, Asian giant hornet outreach and education specialist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, reached out about a month ago for a cooperative effort in Bellingham parks, Brown told The Bellingham Herald.

“WSDA provided all of the trapping materials for volunteers, which has been incredibly helpful,” Brown said.

The state also reached out to other local organizations, Brown said.

The state agriculture department is leading the effort to find and destroy the Asian giant hornet, including settings traps for over-wintering queens early in spring followed by trapping for workers starting in July.

The goal is to find and destroy the hornets and prevent the pests from reproducing and taking hold in the Pacific Northwest.

About 1,800 traps have been put up, with 600 of them from the Washington State Department of Agriculture and an estimated 1,200 from citizen scientists, according to Karla Salp, a department spokeswoman.

The traps have been put up throughout the state, she said, but are primarily in Whatcom County and the Puget Sound.

“The public’s interest in trapping for Asian giant hornets has been tremendous. As of right now, we have about triple the amount of traps out compared to what we would have with agency trapping alone,” Salp said to The Herald.

“This is really amazing, especially considering that hanging and monitoring a trap is a significant time and financial commitment since the traps must be checked weekly and the entire trap contents sent in to WSDA if they contain a bee, wasp or hornet,” she said.

The hornets were first reported in Whatcom County last year.

A Blaine-area homeowner found a dead one on his property on Dec. 8, 2019, and reported seeing a live one near a hummingbird feeder before it flew into a nearby wooded area.

Those 2019 sightings were the first of the invasive hornets in Washington state and the U.S.

About the size of an adult thumb, the Asian giant hornet, or Vespa mandarinia, is the world’s largest hornet and a predator of honeybees and other insects. They are identifiable by their large yellow/orange heads.

The invasive hornets’ native range is Asia. They also are known as the Japanese hornet, yak-killer hornet, the giant sparrow bee and popularly as murder hornets after a New York Times article.

Asian giant hornets are typically dormant during winter. They’re seen usually from July through October.

They primarily nest in large colonies in the ground — in hollows formed by rotting roots, hollow trunks and rodent burrows. They can, though rarely, nest above ground in hollow trees and human structures, state agriculture officials have said.

Report it

If you think you’ve seen an Asian giant hornet, the Washington State Department of Agriculture wants you to report it. Here’s how:

? Go online to the Hornet Watch Report Form.

? Email PestProgram@agr.wa.gov.

? Call 800-443-6684.

? Stay updated at the Asian giant hornet watch Facebook group.

Learn more at agr.wa.gov/hornets, including how members of the public in Washington state can create bottle traps for Asian giant hornets.

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©2020 The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

Visit The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.) at www.bellinghamherald.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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