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Cicada Killers are being mistaken for the dread Murder Hornets

The Eastern Cicada Killer can be almost as big and looks nearly identical to the Asian Giant Hornet
Posted at 6:26 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 18:26:33-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — People in West Michigan are mistakenly identifying Eastern Cicada Killers for the dreaded Murder Hornet.

The United States was introduced to the concept of the Murder Hornet, or Asian Giant Hornet, back in May. Though the only confirmed sightings of the frighteningly-named insect have been in Washington State.

"But Washington, it seems to be doing everything very, very right. They are putting lots of time and effort into surveillance," said Mark VanderWerp, a Certified Board Entomologist with Rose Pest Solutions.

"So if they keep that work up and they continue to get the word out to people to submit sightings in Washington, not Michigan, there's a very real chance that these things will be eradicated and not established permanently."

Of course, only time will tell. But VanderWerp says it would take many years for the little buggers to make it all the way to Michigan.

FOX 17 has had nearly a dozen photos sent in to the newsroom from people convinced they have spotted a Murder Hornet.

But VanderWerp took a look at the most recent photo sent in by a viewer in Kentwood and says it is actually a Eastern Cicada Killer.

“That's what I would expect people to most commonly confused with an Asian giant Hornet," VanderWerp said Friday.

"They're very non-aggressive towards people, which is fantastic because they look like the spawn of satan to most people. If you're an entomologist, they look amazing.”

Both the Cicada Killer and the Murder Hornet can grow to similar sizes, about 2 inches in length.

VanderWerp says the key to telling them apart is by looking at their heads. The Murder Hornet has a bright yellow or orange/yellow head.

So while you aren't likely to spot a Murder Hornet here in the mitten state, VanderWerp says there are several potentially-dangerous insects you should be on the lookout for.

“One of them is the Spotted Lantern Fly,” VanderWerp says.

“That will be a pest of outdoor ornamentals and landscape plantings, as well as some some agricultural crops.”

There is also another new bloodsucker that's been spotted here in recent years: the Asian Longhorned Tick.

“More of a pest of cattle but it does get on dogs, it does get on people, and it potentially can transmit some nasty diseases,” he said.

You can find out more about the work Mark VanderWerp does at Rose Pest Solutions website.