NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The state of Tennessee will begin setting traps in mid-May for the Giant Asian Hornet, known more commonly as the murder hornet, according to the state’s apiarist.
Michael Struder, Tennessee’s apiarist, said the murder hornet is the world’s largest hornet at more than two inches long. It can wipe out an entire honeybee colony in a matter of hours and has done so in Asia.
The hornets also have a sometimes lethal sting.
“In Japan, they say they have between 30 and 50 people a year that are killed by these hornets,” Struder explained.
The Giant Asian Hornet was first spotted in the U.S. in Washington state back in December, but Struder said there have been no credible sightings in Tennessee and it’s highly unlikely they are in the state; however, he wants to make sure precautions are taken. He explained the original plan was to set traps in July, but he chose to move that up to mid-May.
“We’re trapping areas where they’re bringing in plant material because that’s the way they believe they came in was through plant material,” he explained. “It’s possible they could be in potted plants over in Washington and got shipped over here. Or they’ve come directly in from China, Japan or Taiwan.”
Struder added, “it’s the Queens that are coming in in those potted plants, so it’s not an active nest. They’re not gonna come out and fly at you when you pick the pot up. They’re not going to come out until they come out of their dormant phase.”
While Studer has received more than 100 photos over the last few days from people claiming to have seen a Giant Asian Hornet in Tennessee, he said the photos he has seen are all actually European Hornets. They can also wipe out an entire honeybee colony, but would take weeks to do so.
If you believe you have seen a murder hornet in the state, Struder suggests snapping a photo of the face and backside, if it is safe to do so, and submit it to a University of Tennessee Extension Office.