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murder hornets

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A so-called murder hornet was found dead just north of Seattle — the first Asian giant hornet spotted in North America this year — as scientists work to prevent invasive species from getting a foothold on the continent.

A resident found the dead hornet on his lawn in Washington’s Snohomish County on June 4 and reported it to agriculture officials, who said Wednesday the dried-out old male hornet appeared to be from a previous season.

“The find is perplexing because it is too early for a male to emerge,” said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator for the US Department of Agriculture’s quarantine program.

The insects are known to decimate hives of honeybees that pollinate crops. They are not particularly aggressive toward people, but their stings are extremely painful and can be deadly.

Warnings that the species could present a “serious danger” in the US this spring have so far been unfounded, after hundreds of the hornets were found in 2019 and 2020 in Canada and south of the border in Washington.

DNA testing found the new specimen appeared to be unrelated to the insects found over the last two years.

The hornet did not have orange bands on its abdomen and likely came from southern Asia, entomologists said.

“We’ll now be setting traps in the area and encouraging citizen scientists to trap in Snohomish and King counties,” said Sven Spichiger, an entomologist with the state Agriculture Department.

“None of this would have happened without an alert resident taking the time to snap a photo and submit a report.”

With AP wires

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