NC Department Of Agriculture: 'Murder Hornet' Not Likely In State, But Tell Us If You See One

May 5, 2020

North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture is asking residents to report any sightings in the state of the Asian giant hornet, nicknamed the “murder hornet.” A few hornets have appeared in Washington state in recent months and North Carolina agriculture officials are on the lookout.

Side profile of an Asian giant hornet
Credit Matt Bertone / NC State University

The Asian giant hornet can grow up to two inches long — the size of a human thumb. It gets the nickname murder hornet because it preys on honeybees and destroys their hives within two hours. Experts believe the insect arrived in Washington state by a shipping container.

NC Department of Agriculture staff entomologist Whitney Swink said there’s a low risk of the hornets showing up in North Carolina.

"If, heaven forbid, it did show up in North Carolina, we’d probably know pretty quickly, and our goal would be to immediately eradicate before any establishment is allowed to occur," Swink said. "But in terms of a true likelihood, I think it’s very, very low risk of it showing up here in North Carolina."

A European hornet worker
Credit Matt Bertone / NC State University

Swink also said residents may see the similar-looking European hornet active in the state. That insect has yellow-orange and brown markings on its face, while the Asian giant hornet has a bright orange face. 

Anyone who thinks they’ve seen an Asian giant hornet should call the Department of Agriculture.

The department also said that if residents can safely take a photo of a suspected Asian giant hornet, they can submit it via an online form on N.C. State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic website (using the instructions under Option No. 3).

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