Adults of the Asian giant hornet can be distinguished from other hornets by their big “cheeks” (which hold muscles for savage biting), teardrop-shaped eyes and a scalloped structure above the mandibles in between the eyes. (Image credit: Phil Degginger / Alamy Stock Photo)

An invasive and destructive “murder hornet” has been spotted in Washington state for the first time this year, and the alien-looking insect was behaving accordingly — attacking a hive of paper wasps.

A Whatcom County resident reported the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), which can reach 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) in length, on Aug. 11, just 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the first-ever U.S. sighting of this species in December 2019 near Blaine, Washington, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).

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