VANCOUVER -- Officials in British Columbia and Washington state say public outreach will be key to tracking and tracing Asian giant hornets this year as many of the insects were found by members of the public last year.

Also dubbed the murder hornet, the invasive wasps have been found in communities along both sides of the Canada-U.S. border and on Vancouver Island.

Scientists say the hornets, which are about five centimetres long with a seven-centimetre wingspan, can quickly kill adult honeybees in a hive for the honey and larvae inside.

Six of the invasive giant hornets were found in B.C.'s Fraser Valley region last year, and Paul van Westendorp of the Agriculture Ministry says the province will focus on that region as a result.

He says all of the hornets caught in the area last year were found by the public, not through the ministry's traps, which highlights the importance of public outreach.

Washington's plans are similar to last year's, including an emphasis on using the public to report the hornets, as well as its own trapping program.

Last year, scientists in Whatcom County on the U.S. side of the border found a nest with 500 live specimens at various stages of development, including 200 queens with the potential to start their own nests.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2021.