You have most likely seen some news story or social media post about the Asian giant hornet, or "murder hornet," recently. The Asian giant hornet, or Japanese giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, is
the world's largest species of hornet. It poses a significant threat to honeybee colonies, and its sting can be quite painful to people. The Asian giant hornets prey on different types of insects, but during the growing season, they may seek honeybees and conduct coordinated attacks on honeybee colonies later in the summer, which can decimate entire colonies.
In the fall and winter of 2019, the Asian giant hornet was detected in British Columbia, Canada and northwestern Washington. They have not been detected so far in 2020. According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, no Asian giant hornets have been found in Oregon. However, in order to successfully keep them from establishing here, early detection is critical.
The Asian giant hornet should not be confused with either the Pacific cicada killer, Sphecius convallis, or the Western cicada killer, Sphecius grandis, wasps that are native to the western
Due to an outbreak of cicadas, Central Oregon saw a larger than usual population of those large, cicada-hunting wasps last year. The cicada killer wasps (both Pacific and western) hunt cicadas to feed to their young. There were many sightings in Jefferson and Crook counties that were reported to the local Oregon State University Extension offices and the Central Oregon Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Madras. The cicada killer wasps are about the same size as the Asian giant hornet (1 1/2 to 2 inches in length), they can be distinguished by their head, which is brown, while the Asian giant hornet has a large yellow-orange head. The Asian giant hornet also has very large, claw-like mouthparts, or mandibles, whereas the cicada killers do not. The cicada killer wasps are a native species to our area and pose no threat to either humans or honeybees.
If you suspect an Asian giant hornet sighting or attack, please notify the ODA, including location and photographs, if possible (but do not risk being stung). To report a sighting, go to https://oda.fyi/HornetReport or call 503-986-4636.
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