No evidence of ‘murder hornets’ found in Florida after reported sightings, Dept. of Agriculture says

Florida

A wasp gathers pollen from a goldenrod flower in the Florida Everglades National Park Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — State officials say there is no evidence of any so-called “murder hornets” in Florida despite several reports of sightings.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has received several reports recently of Asian giant hornets being sighted throughout Florida. The department’s Division of Plant Industry investigated and confirmed there is no evidence that the “murder hornets” are present anywhere in the state.

“With reports of suspected Asian giant hornet sightings in Florida, our department and the USDA have confirmed that there is no evidence of this species in Florida,” Commissioner Fried said.

Fried’s announcement comes days after Washington agriculture officials trapped the first “murder hornet” to be found in the United States so far.

“Our partners at the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the USDA are continuing to study and contain the Asian giant hornet to Washington state,” Fried said. “We have every reason to believe that these ongoing efforts will keep this invasive pest far away from Florida’s residents and 650,000 honeybee colonies.”

According to the agriculture commissioner, reports of “murder hornets” in the Sunshine State are usually due to misidentification. She says the hornets closely resemble native hornet and wasp species in Florida.

The Asian giant hornets are nicknamed “murder hornets” because they are giant, aggressive and can wipe out entire bee colonies by decapitating worker bees. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture, the hornets are known to feed on insects, sap and soft fruits. Their stinger is longer than a honeybee’s and the venom is highly toxic but department officials say they rarely attack people or pets unless they feel threatened.

If you believe you’ve seen an Asian giant hornet in Florida, you can call 1-888-397-1517 or email DPIHelpline@FDACS.gov. Department officials ask that you provide as much detail as possible and a photo if you can safely take one.

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