Just as the world prepares to say goodbye to one 2020 horror in COVID-19, it says hello, again, to another: murder hornets. The first “murder hornet”—officially named the Asian giant hornet—was spotted near Seattle earlier this month and confirmed by both the Washington State and U.S. Departments of Agriculture on Wednesday. Experts from the agencies believe the male hornet is from a prior season, as males typically don’t surface until at least late July, and they aren’t sure how it ended up in Marysville, located in Snohomish County. A USDA plant administrator announced plans to survey Snohomish to determine whether hornets have formed nests there.
“Murder hornets” derive their name from their ability to swarm honey bee nests, killing large swaths of them. The 2-inch-long insects, which made their first appearance in the U.S. last year, don’t directly attack humans, but experts have sought to destroy their nests due to the ecological threat they pose.