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VERIFY: Are the large insects spotted around the Treasure Valley 'murder hornets?'

The hornets get their murderous nickname from their habit of destroying beehives.

BOISE, Idaho — Worries over Asian Giant Hornets invading Washington State have made the rounds on social media.

Dubbed murder "hornets," these massive bugs pose a major risk to bee populations, and a smaller risk to humans if they feel threatened.

Recently, people around the Treasure Valley have sent photos to KTVB, questioning whether insects they see around their homes are the dreaded "murder hornets."

Credit: Lynda Ballista

We reached out to University of Idaho entomologist Prof. Sanford Eigenbrode to separate fact from fiction.

RELATED: Expert: Don’t panic over murder hornets

“The Asian Giant Hornet, vespa manderinia, that we’re talking about today, is the largest hornet in the world," Eigenbrode says. “They’re killing bees and removing resources, probably the brood, that they can feed upon. They’re predators.”

The hornets get their murderous nickname from their habit of destroying beehives. They were first spotted in Washington state in September 2019, but have not made their way into Idaho, Eigenbrode said.

He said there is another explanation for photos like the ones Lynda Ballista snapped of a large flying insect in Mountain Home. 

“They sent pictures of Digger Wasps, that are present over much of North America," Eigenbrode said. "They are about three-quarters the length of the Asian Giant Hornet and maybe a quarter of the mass, because the Asian Giant Hornet is quite robust.”

Credit: Washington State Dept. of Agriculture

So-called murder hornets would instantly stand out from any of the bees, wasps, or hornets that make Idaho their home, he added.

“They look really different. There’s not a lot of hornets that look like that," he said. “For most of populated Idaho, these things are extremely unlikely to appear and establish.”

RELATED: VERIFY: What 'murder hornets' are and what they're not

Eigenbrode says the Asian Giant Hornets typically like regions with wetter climates.

The only places they could possibly establish in Idaho are in the Treasure Valley or the Magic Valley.

But because the rest of Idaho - and most places between here and the areas they have been spotted -are just too dry, the hornets would have to be transported by humans in order to survive the trip.

If you think you’ve spotted one, send a picture to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

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