The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is looking for Whatcom County residents to allow Asian giant hornet traps on their property in areas that aren’t being fully monitored, including east Blaine and Birch Bay.
The state agency has created a grid broken into 1-by-1 kilometer squares. Each square is labeled with the number of traps set in each area, but some critical areas for detecting hornets are without traps. Areas in the Blaine area that need more trapping include H Street west of Guide Meridian Road, Birch Point Road in Birch Bay, Grandview Road, just east of Blaine Road, and near Custer.
People unsure if they live in an area needing traps can send WSDA their address, WSDA spokesperson Karla Salp said.
“WSDA will only put the traps up if they’re needed, so it doesn’t hurt to let WSDA know,” she said.
If people allow WSDA staff onto their property, they can expect staff wearing orange WSDA vests and carrying identification to come every one to two weeks. Staff will try to place the traps at the edge of properties, away from houses. The traps will take about 5-10 minutes to check, unless a hornet is found.
“As long as [staff] have the initial permission, they won’t bother people every time they stop by,” Salp said. “They will try to be as unintrusive as possible.”
People can also set their own traps and log the trap information on WSDA’s website at bit.ly/3y5MwYw so the agency knows the area is being monitored.
Traps are made from 2-liter plastic bottles that contain an orange juice and rice cooking wine mixture or a brown sugar and water mixture. People setting their own traps should remove them every week to strain the liquid, inspect for Asian giant hornets and refill them. Unlike last year, trappers only need to report what they believe could be an Asian giant hornet.
Other Whatcom County areas needing more traps include the Bellingham area, Everson and Sumas. WSDA is especially looking for people to set traps in the area north of Lynden, Salp said.
Salp also said it would be helpful for people to set traps in Point Roberts, which doesn’t have any public or WSDA traps because of the agency’s challenges of crossing the U.S./Canada border.
Anyone can still set traps, even if there are other people living near them who have set traps, Salp said.
WSDA began setting traps in Whatcom County in the spring, when hornet queens emerge from the winter, and asked the public to start setting traps for worker hornets July 1. Trapping lasts until the end of November.
Of WSDA’s 712 traps, 680 are in Whatcom County. The public has set 573 traps primarily in western Washington and 135 traps are set by cooperator organizations such as boy scout troops and public works departments, Salp said.
The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest hornet, measuring 1.5-2 inches. The orange-and-black striped insect with large, almond-shaped eyes is invasive to North America. It was first detected in Whatcom County and B.C. in 2019, and the first nest in the U.S. was eradicated in east Blaine last October.
The state agency is putting special focus on hunting the hornets in Whatcom County because of the nest found near Delta Line Road in east Blaine last year. No hornets, which are typically seen from late spring until November, have been found in Whatcom County yet this year. It will take three years of no catches for an area to be declared eradicated of the invasive species, Salp said.
Whatcom County residents can contact WSDA about the traps by emailing Cassie Cichorz at firstname.lastname@example.org with their contact information and address. Instructions for making homemade traps can be found on the WSDA website at bit.ly/3h9QnfA.