OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The invasive hornet found in Washington state that has been dubbed the Asian giant hornet or the murder hornet has a new name.
Washington State Department of Agriculture officials said Monday that the Entomological Society of America (ESA) has adopted “northern giant hornet” for the species Vespa mandarinia on its List of Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms.
There has been no official common name for ESA since its introduction to North America became widely known in 2020, officials said. The state of Washington will use the new common name.
The proposal to establish a common name came from Dr. Chris Looney, who was active in the state’s hornet research and efforts to eradicate the giant hornet from northern Washington, officials said.
The new name is intended to comply with ESA insect common naming guidelines, which include avoiding naming insects using geographic regions.
The northern giant hornet is native to Asia and has been the target of eradication efforts in Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, after hornets were first discovered in both locations in 2019.
The insects are the largest hornets in the world, with queens reaching up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) in length. They are considered invasive in North America for their ability to kill other species of bees and hornets, earning them the nickname “murder hornets.”
Scientists believe that hornets in the US are confined to Whatcom County, which is on the Canadian border north of Seattle. Washington state entomologists have so far eradicated four nests of northern giant hornets.
Scientists said in May that they would set about 1,000 hornet traps in the area by 2022. Hornets caught in the traps help scientists find the location of nests.
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