This morning's local papers (I get two), both reported the finding of a dead male hornet in Marysville. Which although the state underplays it- as they should lacking substantial evidence- there are some significant and ominous aspects to this finding- that I think have a above average probability.
Firstly, Marysville, for those that don't know the area, isn't anywhere within range of the previous findings, it's a few years south of them (measured in how many years it would take those initial hornets to spread there). The nearest port is the port of Everett- and the Navy's port, so not out of the question they came from there. But how likely?
The state is suggesting that this might just be "normal"- more ports, more shipments. I've lived here all my life, and am 5th generation, and I can't recall that it was ever "normal" to find giant hornets, and except for WW2, shipping has been pretty much non-stop from Japan.
Plus- had a mated female arrived in any of that time- the climate and area was perfect even then. No one checked, or cared- how is it that is happening now and never before?
When they tested the DNA, they found this speciman was unrelated to the previous finds, which now makes three different lineages. The idea that they have somehow come independently sees hard to fathom, though maybe something new is being imported that wasn't before? A new agricultural crop for example, or shipments from a port in Japan that didn't ship to us before? Given they have the DNA, isn't there a way to trace its origins in Japan?
However, the main thing is that this is a male animal. That suggests a hornet that was born here. Not for sure of course- but for a male hornet to have been imported means it would have had to ship out after Summer in 2020, and that's not when we're thinking they came. It doesn't sound right to me.
However, one unspoken possibility is that there are in fact, a lot more hornet nests out there than anyone thought- and that they spread much, much further in a year than anyone predicted. Both not unlikely- the guesses as to their yearly spread were purely speculation- no one has the actual data. Guesses were 30 km a year- yet the Asian Hornet, in Europe, moves 100 km a year. That's from memory- I might be off- but the point is, they can travel far, and that we don't know how far. And Marysville, after two years of the hornet being here (initially found on Vancouver in 2019- but it could have arrived earlier than that as well), could well be in their range if they are spreading faster than we thought,
Consider for example, that with the hive destroyed last year, the hornet, though huge, was rarely seen. And only at the very last minute, with thousand of traps in a very small area, caught. It was never even seen by the homeowners on who's property this was on. It keeps a low profile, despite it's size.
Plus- our neighbor to the north, B.C., appears to be doing very little, if anything, to address the issue- and last we heard the hornet had been located, but not destroyed, further east then was guessed it could be.
It's early yet- and of course officials want to suggest this is all "in hand" and possibly "normal", or "the new normal"- and it may well be. However, I think the money is on it not being under control- and any confidence that it is only needs to look at the success of its relative, the Asian Hornet, in Europe. If it's not, its spread will happen fast, and it might be even faster than Dr. Looney's paper suggests.