Their return really stings.
A resident snapped a photo of the so-called “murder hornet” attacking a wasp nest in Blaine, just south of the Canadian border, on Wednesday, Washington officials say.
It was just two miles away from where officials destroyed the first-ever murder hornet nest found in the United States last October.
“This hornet is exhibiting the same behavior we saw last year — attacking paper wasp nests,” said Sven Spichiger, a managing entomologist with the state department of agriculture.
A resident found a dead hornet just north of Seattle in June, but officials later determined the dried-out old male hornet appeared to be from a previous season.
The insects — deemed an “invasive pest” — are known to decimate hives of honeybees that pollinate crops. A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honeybee hive in a matter of hours.
The hornets, which can grow up to 2 inches long, are not particularly aggressive toward people but their stings are extremely painful and can be deadly.
Following the latest sighting, traps have been set up in the area to try to catch a live one so officials can tag it and track it back to its nest.
Given the proximity to the U.S.-Canada border, officials there are also setting traps.
“If you have paper wasp nests on your property and live in the area, keep an eye on them and report any Asian giant hornets you see. Note the direction they fly off to as well,” Spichiger said.
The first Asian hornet nest discovered in Washington last October contained about 500 live specimens, including nearly 200 queens.
Scientists destroyed the basketball-size nest soon after it was found.
Of the nearly 200 queens discovered, almost 76 were grown virgins, which have the potential to leave, mate and then start their own nests, officials said at the time.