Those seeking a hobby this summer might consider adopting a wasp.
The project requires participants to “adopt” paper wasp nests and monitor them weekly from June through October to see if they are visited by hornets, the agency said in a news release.
Whatcom County residents have reported Asian giant hornets attacking paper wasp nests in the past two years. In 2021, the department tracked a hornet’s activity, and observed it repeatedly return to the same nest and remove the paper wasp larvae.
Paper wasps, varying in size and gray or brown in color, are not typically aggressive — though they can sting if threatened. They form small colonies and build hanging, open comb nests that range from the size of a quarter to as wide as a coffee can lid, according to the WSDA.
The giant hornets, the world’s largest known hornet species, are considered to be invasive in North America for their ability to kill bees and other hornet species.
Within hours, a small group of the giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive, according to an Associated Press report. Honey bees pollinate many of Washington’s crops, which contribute to the state’s multibillion-dollar agriculture industry.
The hornets were first detected in the state in 2019, and scientists believe the giant hornets are confined in Whatcom County, WSDA said Tuesday. Three giant hornet nests were killed last year all near Blaine.
While the department is encouraging all Washington residents to participate in its “adopt a wasp” project, officials are especially seeking participation from residents in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Snohomish, King, Jefferson, and Clallam counties.
Starting June 1, participants can locate nests they have access to and log them on WSDA’s online registration form.
Participants will be required to check the nests for at least five minutes each week during the five-month period and report findings on the check-in form.
The department is also encouraging people to set their own traps following the guidance listed on its website.
For more information about the project and to access the registration forms, visit st.news/adoptwasp.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.