Friday, May 20, 2022

This summer, "adopt a wasp" to help monitor for Asian giant hornets

Cassie Cichorz
Pest Program

WSDA invites you to help watch for Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) this summer. Join our new citizen science project to adopt a structure with paper wasp nests and observe the nests weekly from June through October. If you'd like to do even more, WSDA will continue to invite residents to participate in citizen scientist trapping for hornets too.

Over the last two years, residents of Whatcom County have noticed hornets attacking paper wasp nests. In 2021, WSDA tracked a hornet and observed it repeatedly visiting the same paper wasp nest. Each visit lasted five to ten minutes and the hornet removed paper wasp larvae.  

Paper wasps can grow to about ¾ of an inch long and have a well-defined “wasp waist” that makes them easy to identify. Paper wasps are typically not aggressive and do not readily attack people, but they can sting if threatened. They form small colonies and build hanging, open comb nests on building eaves, frames, abandoned cars, or branches of trees and shrubs. Paper wasp nests vary in size and are usually gray to brown in color. They are made up of many exposed cells that are less than an inch deep. Nests typically range from the size of a quarter to as wide as a coffee can lid, but can be larger.

Although we invite anyone in Washington to participate in adopting a paper wasp nest, we are particularly interested in observations from Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Snohomish, King, Jefferson, and Clallam counties.


Starting in June, locate nests that you have access to and can monitor through October. Log the nest locations using the Adopt A Paper Wasp Registration Form. After submission, you’ll receive an email confirmation which will include a unique Site ID assigned to your nest location. You will need to save this Site ID to use during weekly check-ins. (Please do not register any sites before June 1.) Click here to access the registration form. When you register, you’ll have the option to sign up for weekly email reminders to check your wasp nests. You can also sign up for weekly text reminders by texting JOIN WASP to 1-800-443-6684.


Each week visit the nests, observe, and report online if any hornet or wasp activity is happening at the nest. WSDA asks you to monitor the nests for at least five minutes during the day once per week, but you can check the nests for as long and often as you would like. 


After monitoring you will need to report each of your observations on the Paper Wasp Nest Check-in form. You will also need your Site ID that was received in a confirmation email. Click here to report and access the Check-in form.

However, if you think you spot an Asian giant hornet (it will be significantly larger than the paper wasps), safely take a photo and report it at or by emailing

Stay Connected

WSDA is dedicated to working with the public and to providing information on Asian giant hornets.

·        Join the Asian giant hornet Facebook group.

·        Join the Pest Program email listserv.

Follow WSDA on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter