Asian giant hornet

This illustration compares the Asian giant hornet, center, with other types of hornets, wasps and bees.

RALEIGH — With the emergence of the Asian giant hornet in Washington state, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is urging North Carolina residents to be vigilant and report potential sightings of the pest.

Asian giant hornets are the world’s largest species of hornet, measuring about 1.5 to 2 inches long. They have an orange-yellow head and prominent eyes, with black and yellow stripes on their abdomens. The hornet is not known to occur in North Carolina, and NCDA&CS apiary staff have been actively monitoring for the pest with no detections to date.

“The Asian giant hornet is a threat to honeybees and can rapidly destroy beehives, but it generally does not attack people or pets,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “There are many wasp and hornet look-alikes that are beneficial insects, so residents are asked to exercise caution before deciding to kill any large hornets.”

Cicada killers and European hornets do occur in North Carolina and can be confused with the Asian giant hornet. Residents can visit https://agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/hornets/size-comparisons to see a photo of the Asian giant hornet along with common look-alikes.

If you think you have seen an Asian giant hornet, take a photo and submit it to the North Carolina State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. Instructions on digital submission can be found at https://projects.ncsu.edu/cals/plantpath/extension/clinic/submit-sample.html under Option 3.

For more information about the Asian giant hornet, visit the NCSU Cooperative Extension or read the pest alert at www.ncagr.gov/plantindustry/plant/entomology/documents/AsianGiantHornetPestWatch.pdf.

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