Washington state has trapped its first Asian giant hornet.
The hornet was found July 14 in a bottle trap set near Birch Bay in Whatcom County, and state entomologists confirmed its identity Wednesday, according to a statement on the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA)'s website.
The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest hornet. It's known to some as the "murder hornet" — though Washington state officials don't use that moniker — because it can attack and wipe out a honey bee colony in a few hours and its stings are excruciating to humans. The invasive insect's presence in the state was first documented late last year.
This was the first hornet to be found in a trap, rather than in the environment as the state’s five previous confirmed sightings were.
WSDA said in the statement its next steps are to search for nests using infrared cameras and set additional traps intended to catch hornets alive so they can be tagged and tracked to their colony.
The agency hopes to find and destroy the colony by mid-September before the new reproducing queens and drones are created.
"Destroying the nest before new queens emerge and mate will prevent the spread of this invasive pest," the statement said.