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caption: Washington scientists trapped and tagged an Asian giant hornet in October 2020.
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Washington scientists trapped and tagged an Asian giant hornet in October 2020.
Credit: Washington State Department of Agriculture

Murder hornet gets a new name

You may know them as "Asian Giant Hornets," or "murder hornets," but entomologists have decided that the invasive bee-killers in British Columbia and Washington state should now be known as "Northern Giant Hornets."

The Entomological Society of America has settled on this new name, in a bid to reduce confusion. The insect has different monikers in different areas. The term "northern" refers to the hornets' native habitat in northern Asia.

The state Agriculture Department says it will abide by this name and update all its relevant material. According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture:

"The proposal to establish an ESA common name for V. mandarinia came from Dr. Chris Looney, who has been actively involved in WSDA’s hornet research and efforts to eradicate northern giant hornet from Washington.

In conjunction with 'northern giant hornet,' ESA also adopted Dr. Looney’s proposals for 'southern giant hornet' as the common name for the species Vespa soror and 'yellow-legged hornet' for Vespa velutina. Vespa soror is a closely related—and similarly large—species to V. mandarinia, and the descriptors 'northern' and 'southern' refer to the species’ native geographic ranges in Asia."

By the end of last year, the department had destroyed four nests belonging to the Northern Giant Hornets.