CATCH THE BUZZ- Exotic Hornet ID Training

Washington State University Pesticide Resources and Education Program

Exotic Hornet Identification Basics

May 17 & 18  |  11:00 am – 2:15 pm

Please join us for an exotic hornet identification training class. The purpose of this class is to help responders correctly identify insects submitted as potential Asian giant hornets.  Asian giant hornet was identified in Washington and Canada in 2019. The public has been asked to report potential sightings to help detect and prevent the spread of this invasive species. In response many agencies were flooded with identification requests and public concern.  To aid in responding to submissions this two day training will cover a variety of topics. No prior identification training is needed to participate. This is hosted in part by Washington State Department of Agriculture and Washington State University Extension, presenters are also included from United States Department of Agriculture, Washington State University, and Washington State Department of Agriculture.

The class will cover the taxonomy and relationships of insects in general, and orders of insects commonly confused with hornets including Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps.) Presentations will focus about the taxonomy, identification, and biology of wasps in the family Vespidae – family of AGH. Attendees will also learn how to detect falsified submissions, and be able to respond to frustrated citizens. They will leave with resources to guide them through insect identification and be prepared to screen potential Asian giant hornet detections.


Allan Smith-Pardo, Ph.D.

Biological Scientist – Entomologist Identification Technology Program (ITP)

USDA-APHIS-PPQ-Science & Technology

Allan  is a Biological Scientist with USDA-APHIS-PPQ, Science and Technology- Identification Technology Program in Sacramento, California. He worked as the PPQ National Specialist for the Apoidea (bees and relatives) as well as Vespidae (including social vespids Vespa – hornets- and Vespula -yellowjackets-) for more than 10 years and has been an advisor for some of USDA-PPQ policies and outreach materials. Allan is also an adjunct professor in Entomology at the National University of Colombia in Medellin; one of his most recent publications (Smith-Pardo et al. 2020), is the most up-to-date review of the genus Vespa and includes the most recent taxonomy and keys for identification of all species in the genus.

Elizabeth Murray, Ph.D.

Department of Entomology

Washington State University Extension

Dr. Elizabeth Murray is the Telford Family Professor and Director of the M.T. James Entomological Collection in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. Elizabeth works on Hymenoptera (the insect order comprising the sawflies, wasps, ants, and bees) and reconstructs their relationships to study patterns of evolution. Her research focuses especially on bees, cuckoo wasps, and Vespidae.

Elizabeth Murray received her B.A. in biology from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. She completed her M.S. in entomology at Kansas State University, and her Ph.D. in entomology at the University of California, Riverside. From there, Elizabeth worked as a Lecturer and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, before going to Washington, DC for her position in the Department of Entomology as a Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. In 2020, she moved west to join the Department of Entomology at WSU.

Jessica LaBelle

Entomology Branch Admin Assistant

Washington State Department of Agriculture

Jessica La Belle operates the Pest Program hotline and responds to reports of invasive species and questions from the public. She has been with the Washington State Department of Agriculture for 6 years in various roles. She holds a Master’s in Agricultural Sciences & Extension Education from Colorado State University.

Jason Gambill

Senior Safety Officer

Washington State Department of Agriculture

Jason joined WSDA in 2016 after serving in the navy for 23 years. He worked as the Medical and Safety Supervisor he was responsible for a small team of Safety Officers who managed OSHA safety programs for 500 employees. Currently he is responsible for overseeing employee safety for over 800 employees.

Jason has helped WSDA’s Safety program flourish into a viable safety program and has been responsible in promoting a safe culture for all employees and even adopted the catchphrase “Your Safety Matters”!  Jason has been working his way through each Division and has completed numerous safety observations in order to help identify hazards which could put our employees at risk. [].