Scared of murder hornets? A Virignia Tech professor says we won’t see them in the state for the foreseeable future

Virginia News

FILE – In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a researcher holds a dead Asian giant hornet in Blaine, Wash. FILE – This Dec. 30, 2019 photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture shows a dead Asian giant hornet in a lab in Olympia, Wash. It is the world’s largest hornet, a 2-inch long killer with an appetite for honey bees. Dubbed the “Murder Hornet” by some, the insect has a sting that could be fatal to some humans. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — People have been worrying about the threat of “killer hornets” after a few were spotted in North America. But according to a professor at Virginia Tech, no Asian giant hornets have been sighted in Virginia — or anywhere on the East Coast for that matter.

According to the university, the first hornet spotted in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada was in fall 2019.

In November, a single hornet was spotted 10 miles away from the first one, still in Canada.

The first hornet was spotted in the U.S. in winter 2019, but experts believe it only traveled that far due to the Pacific winds. Virginia Tech said the nest it came from was destroyed and none of these hornets have been seen in 2020.

“If it [Asian giant hornets] is discovered to be established in the Pacific Northwest later this summer, both American and Canadian governments will work hard to eradicate it,” said Tim Kring, professor and head of the Department of Entomology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in a press release. “Even if that fails, the spread of the wasp is less than 40 miles a year, and it would be years before it spread from Canada to the East Coast.”

“However, we should remain vigilant about all invasive species, such as the spotted lanternfly.”

In addition, Kring said Virginia has several large hornets less than 1.5 inches long that might be confused with the Asian giant hornet. These bugs include:

  • European Hornet — This hornet is common in Virginia, and is smaller than one inch, while the Asian giant hornet is more than two. This hornet does not pose any major threat to honey bees.
  • The Cicada Killer — While almost as large as the Asian Giant hornet, it only really hunts cicadas and is not aggressive towards humans.
  • Baldfaced Hornet — this hornet is commonly seen in Virginia, and it mostly feeds on flies and caterpillars.

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