Know your bees. “Murder hornets” not likely in North Carolina

by | May 17, 2022

People are out working in their yards more and likely will see bees buzzing about pollinating plants. It is also the time of year when people start to see common North Carolina bees, wasps and hornets. Eastern cicada killer wasps, European Hornets and Carpenter bees are a few common ones. While these are large insects, it is not the dramatically named “murder hornet” or Asian Giant Hornet that created big headlines and concerns when it was found on the West Coast in 2020. In fact, that hornet has never been found in North Carolina and likely never will be because of Washington State’s Department of Agriculture’s quick response in reacting to their initial discovery. The N.C. State University has created a guide to help you ID common North Carolina bees, hornets and wasps.

Today’s Topic with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis
  • I’m going to start by saying that we have NEVER found Asian giant hornets aka “murder hornets” in North Carolina and likely never will.
  • I will probably say that a few more times throughout this interview because we have recently seen an uptick in calls and emails from people who think they have seen “murder hornets” at their homes or in their yards.
  • Listeners may remember the big “buzz” that was created in 2020 when Washington State announced it had discovered Asian giant hornets in the state.
  • I cannot tell you how many phone calls, emails and photos we fielded in the past two years about this, and understandably so. It sounds like a scary pest.
  • But our Plant Industry staff tell me that the Washington State Department of Agriculture moved quickly in identifying the Asian giant hornets and eradicating the nests that were found. Surveillance and trapping has continued in Washington state, and also in neighboring Oregon and inspectors have not found any more of these hornets.
  • So, we feel confident that we do NOT have the Asian giant hornet here.
  • To help residents identify look-a-like bees, hornets and wasps more readily, N.C. State University developed a quick guide which offers a great side by side comparison. You can find it at slash)murder-(dash)hornet-(dash)comparison/(back slash)
  • If you still have concerns about insects you find in you yard, I’d encourage you to contact your local county cooperative extension office for assistance.
  • I’ll just remind listeners that bees are important pollinators for our gardens and crops, so we should strive to get along. If you discover a hive that is too close for comfort, contact a local pest control service to safely remove the hive.
  • One of the reasons we want people to be armed with this information is that it helps calm concerns about the Asian giant hornet being in our state by helping them identify similar pests.
  • That frees our plant pest specialists up to monitor for threatening pests that are in much closer proximity to our state and pose a much higher risk, including the spotted lanternfly.
The spotted lanternfly adult may be flashy, but it's destructive! Image: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,
The spotted lanternfly adult may be flashy, but it’s destructive! Image: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,
  • I’d ask listeners to keep their eyes out for the spotted lanternfly, which is a pretty, but highly destructive pest.
  • This pest, which is identified by the distinctive black spots on its front wings, has been found on the East Coast. And has breeding populations in nearby states of Virginia and West Virginia.
  • I’d encourage you to look up images of the spotted lanternfly so you know what they look like and please report them to our Plant Industry Division if you see it.
  • The spotted lanternfly has been known to travel from state to state on cars, so if you are traveling in Northern states along the East Coast, you can also help us be on the lookout by checking your car before you travel back into the state.
  • So, no “murder hornets or Asian giant hornet,” but keep an eye out for spotted lanternflies.