A ‘murder hornet’ has been trapped for the first time in Washington after several confirmed sightings

An Asian giant hornet photographed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Washington State Department of Agriculture

The Washington State Department of Agriculture announced Friday that it trapped its first Asian giant hornet.

The Asian giant hornet, commonly dubbed the “murder hornet,” is a huge hornet that can be as large as over two inches long, according to the US Department of Agriculture. These deadly creatures can mass murder honeybees and have led to human fatalities. Up to 50 people a year in Japan die from the murder hornets, according to the New York Times. These hornets were first sighted in the US this past December in Washington.

In Friday’s announcement, Washington’s agriculture department (WSDA) said that the hornet was found in a trap on July 14 and identified during lab processing on July 29. This hornet marks the first discovered in a trap as opposed to the previous five reported sightings where the bees were in their natural environment, according to the WSDA.

“This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work,” Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist of the WSDA said in a press release. “But it also means we have work to do.”

The WSDA reported that it plans to use infrared cameras and additional traps to catch living hornets in order to track and destruct these insects’ colonies. The USDA says in the event of encountering a murder hornet, witnesses should “calmly leave the area.” WSDA advises witnesses of murder hornets to report it to the agency.