A fourth Asian giant hornet has been found in northwest Washington, expanding the area the giant wasp has been found in Whatcom County.
A wiggling queen hornet was stepped on by a Bellingham resident, who reported the find June 6 to the state Department of Agriculture. The USDA confirmed Thursday it was an Asian giant hornet.
The hornet was found about 15 miles from where one was discovered May 27 and about 20 miles from where two were seen in December.
"We think they are really strong flyers and this could confirm that," state agriculture department spokeswoman Karla Salp said Friday. "It's sad to see it has gone that far, but it's not unexpected."
The two Asian giant hornets found in December were the first U.S. detections ever. The hornet has also been found across the border in British Columbia.
The hornets found near Blaine originated from South Korea, according to a DNA analysis. Hornets analyzed in Canada originated from Japan, suggesting separate introductions.
The hornets are deadly to honey bees. The state agriculture department will hang hundreds of traps in Whatcom County this summer in hopes of learning whether the hornets are becoming established and a threat to pollinators.
As of Friday, the agriculture department had received 1,978 reports online from people who suspect they have found an Asian giant hornet. Reports are coming in from all over the country, even though the hornet has not been found in the U.S. outside Whatcom County.
The agriculture department remains concerned that people in their zeal to stop the giant hornet from becoming established will inadvertently kill pollinators, Salp said. The department has discouraged people outside Washington from setting out traps.