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Giant 'murder-hornet' with painful sting found near Vancouver

Their sting reportedly feels like a, "red-hot thumbtack."
Photo: asian giant hornet / Getty Images

The Washington State Department of Agriculture reports that an Asian giant hornet was collected just south of the border in Bellingham. 

On June 12 at noon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that an Asian giant hornet specimen reported and collected in Bellingham.

In a Facebook post, the WSDA states that the latest specimen was collected more, "than 15 miles from the next closest confirmed sighting in Custer."

The WSDA writes that the reporting party found the specimen on their porch: "The specimen was wiggling on the porch and they stepped on it, killing it."

The specimen was collected and submitted through the Hornet Watch Report Form.

hornet-found-washingtonPhoto: Washington State Department of Agriculture / Facebook

With a wingspan of four to seven centimetres, as well as a potent sting that purportedly feels like a 'red-hot thumbtack,' it is no wonder why locals fear the spread of the Asian Giant Hornet. 

An invasive species, the Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia), is commonly referred to as the 'murder hornet.' Normally found in the forests and low mountains of eastern and southeast Asia, it remains unclear how they arrived in North America. Their moniker — perhaps better suited for a comic book title or rock band name — was coined in Japan.

Three Asian giant hornets were spotted in B.C. for the first time last August in the Nanaimo area, the province’s agriculture ministry said. The single nest was spotted and destroyed, but a specimen was found last November in White Rock and two specimens were found in December at Blaine, Washington.

Last month, Provincial Apiculturist Paul Van Westendorp stated that a specimen had been identified and collected in the Fraser Valley.

VanWestendorp said the latest find indicates that the hornets may have established nests farther into the Fraser Valley than had been anticipated.

Scott Gordon, Apiary Inspector for the Lower Mainland, tells Vancouver Is Awesome in a phone call that a nest was found on Vancouver Island. However, no nests have been found in the province since - and inspectors have been looking for them. People are also encouraged to contact the Invasive Species Council if they think they've spotted an individual or nest. 

Gordon adds that it is still early in the year to know if there will be larger populations of the giant hornets. He says that hornet populations start small and grow through the summer season. 

Disturbing a nest, however, will put them on the attack. And a sting packs a mighty wallop.

A Vancouver island man says the sting felts as though hot thumbtacks had been stuck into his leg. Further, he experienced “throbbing muscular aches” in the legs for about 24 hours.

The buzz about Asian giant hornets

• If you find a nest, do not disturb it. Leave the area.

• Stings are rare but could occur if the nest is disturbed.

• Because of the larger amount of venom injected, a sting can be very painful and cause localized swelling, redness and itching.

• Treat a sting similar to wasp or bee stings by putting ice or a cold compress on the site to reduce inflammation and spread of venom.

• Do not rub the site because it will spread venom.

• People who are stung multiple times (10 or more) have a higher risk of developing toxic or allergic reactions, lightheadedness or dizziness.

• People who are stung multiple time or who develop symptoms of toxic or allergic reactions are advised to seek medical attention immediately.

• If you think you’ve spotted an Asian giant hornet, call the Invasive Species Council of B.C. at 1-888-933-3722, or via the council’s “Report Invasives” mobile phone app, or online HERE

- With files from Carla Wilson / The Times Colonist and The Canadian Press.