Citizen scientist monitoring for northern giant hornets starts in July


If no northern giant hornets, better known by their buzzy alias, “murder hornets,” are found by the end of this year, they will be declared eradicated from east Blaine, and effectively, the entire U.S.

In an effort to help Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) scientists, the state agency is asking the public – especially those in Blaine and Birch Bay – to monitor and report northern giant hornet sightings.

“We’re still not out of the woods yet,” said Karla Salp, WSDA communications consultant. “If there are hornets out there, we need to know. The public’s participation is critical.”

The help takes many forms including setting hornet traps using orange juice and plastic bottles, and monitoring paper wasp nests, a popular meal for hornets in east Blaine. Citizen scientists must check and maintain their homemade traps weekly, and/or register the paper wasp nest they are monitoring with WSDA and spend at least five minutes each week observing it.

WSDA is asking the public be on the watch from July 1 through November, when new hornet colonies are established and workers emerge to hunt. In addition to northern Whatcom County residents, WSDA is asking residents in Island, San Juan, Jefferson and Clallam counties to consider participating.

WSDA is also setting 850-900 traps in Whatcom County, Salp said.

Native to Asia, the first northern giant hornet found in North America was discovered on Vancouver Island in 2019, with a nest eradicated that fall. Hornets were subsequently found in the Lower Mainland in 2019 and 2020, and one decayed hornet was discovered in B.C. less than a mile from east Blaine.

The first hornet in the U.S. was found in Blaine in December 2019, bringing international attention to the area. The first nest found in the U.S. was destroyed in east Blaine in October 2020. Three nests related to “nest zero” were eradicated in east Blaine in August and September 2021.

Since then, no hornets have been detected in Blaine. The invasive hornet will be declared eradicated in the U.S. at the end of 2024 if none are discovered, Salp said.

The hornet was made famous, in part, for its ability to decimate an entire honeybee colony in a matter of hours. The orange-and-black apex predator can grow up to two inches, sound similar to a hummingbird and feed on paper wasp nests. The queen emerges in the spring and workers become active late summer through fall before becoming inactive during the winter.

Salp said the public has reported half of the confirmed northern giant hornet sightings in Washington, and had a hand, either directly or indirectly, in the four nests found in east Blaine.

“Don’t let your guard down,” Salp said. “It’s still really important to participate in this project.”

Anyone who believes they see a northern giant hornet should take a photo, if it is safe to do so, and report it online at, email or call 800/443-6684.

For more information on helping WSDA fight the northern giant hornet, visit its website at


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