Vermont has an Asian giant hornet look-alike

Published: May. 8, 2020 at 5:40 AM EDT
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Vermont bug experts say the state doesn't have any so-called murder hornets, but there is a large look-alike people could mistake for it.

At two inches long, the Asian giant hornet is the largest hornet in the world. It was spotted recently for the first time in the U.S. in Washington state. That has alarmed entomologists, both because the hornet's sting is potentially deadly and because they prey on honeybees. Bee colonies are already struggling because of disease, mites and pesticides.

"I am quite concerned about the Asian giant hornet. I don't want it established in the U.S., because once it's here, it's going to move," said Judy Rosovsky, the Vermont state entomologist. "I am hoping that the USDA and the Washington State Department of Agriculture will be able to track down and eliminate these hornets."

But Rosovsky says the big bug is far away from Vermont and is hopefully never coming here.

What Vermont does have is the European hornet, a relative of the Asian giant hornet. There are records of the insect being found in Springfield, Athens, Tunbridge and Saxton's River.

The bug is about an inch long, although the queens are larger. Rosovsky says since reports about the Asian giant hornet, she's gotten calls about the European hornet and that helps her track where they are.

"As far as I know, they don't prey on honeybees, but if you had wandered into their nest area, you would have wished you had not," she said.

That helps Rosovsky and her team track movement.