Asian Giant Hornet Information

Asian Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia)

Asian giant hornets are a relatively recent invasive insect species to North America. They were first spotted on Vancouver Island in Nanaimo in 2019. The nest was promptly destroyed and no sightings have since occurred on Vancouver Island. Due to their highly predatory nature on honey bees and the potential threat to human safety, it is important for everyone to do their part in preventing the spread of Asian giant hornets.

Ranging from 2.5cm – 5cm in size, they are the largest hornets on earth. Their native habitat is a large swath of eastern Asia from Southeast Russia to India.


Credit: Washington State Dept. of Agriculture,

Risks of Asian Giant Hornets

  • Like any hornet, they can become aggressive when defending their nest and produce painful, venomous stings. Hornets can sting multiple times, as well as spit venom. Asian giant hornets’ stingers are large enough to pierce clothing and even beekeeping suits.
  • Their sting may cause an allergic reaction, severe toxicity or death depending on how much venom was injected during an attack. The venom can also impact vision if sprayed in eyes.
  • Asian giant hornets are predators of various insect species, including honey bees. They can kill entire bee colonies in less than 2 hours to take over the hive.
  • They can have detrimental effects on native honey bee species and therefore BC’s agriculture.

Habitat and Identification

Asian giant hornets build nests in the ground and in tree stumps in forested areas and low mountains. These large nests can contain up to 1000 hornets. The hornets usually fly 1-2 km from their nest, hunting prey, but can travel up to 8 km away.

To identify an Asian giant hornet, use the following indicators:

Asian Giant Hornet Lookalike Species

There are various species of insects that can be mistaken for the Asian giant hornet such as:

For a more comprehensive list of lookalike species, check out this interactive ID guide.

What to do if you Spot an Asian Giant Hornet?

Do not kill the insect, they need to be alive in order to track them back to a potential nest. Keep your distance and take a picture so the insect can be properly identified. Tips for photographing Asian giant hornets:

  • Ensure images are in focus and in colour
  • Take photographs with both a side and top view, if possible
  • Only submit original images, not photographs from the internet

Reporting Sightings

Report Asian giant hornet sightings using the Report Invasives BC app for iphones or android phones. Alternatively, you may report sightings directly on the Invasive Species Council of BC website. You may also contact North Cowichan staff to help with species identification at or 250-746-3128.

What is North Cowichan doing to manage Asian Giant Hornets?

The Municipality is working with the BC Ministry of Agriculture to eradicate any confirmed populations of Asian giant hornets found in the province. The ministry will send teams out to track these hornets based on 3-5 confirmed sightings within close proximity to each other. Community members play a vital role in preventing these invasive pests from becoming established by helping experts locate nests as soon as they are established. Once a nest is located, eradication will take place over the course of a few days to be sure all Asian giant hornets are removed.

The goal of Asian Giant Hornet management is to prevent their becoming established in the province. By everyone doing our part, we can meet this goal.

Where to find more information?

To learn more about the Asian giant hornet, how to identify them, and how to help prevent their spread, visit the Invasive Species Council of BC’s website or the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s website.


Last edited: July 19, 2022.