A group of scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service released the first complete genome of the Asian giant hornet on Thursday.

Sightings of the Asian Giant Hornet, called the “murder hornet” by some, were first reported last December in Washington. According to the USDA, the large wasps are a threat to honey bee colonies, which they are known to attack in late summer and early fall.

The researchers worked with biotechnology company Pacific Biosciences to produce the genome sequence from a single specimen in just two months. The sequence will now be compared to sequences from the populations of the wasp in its native range to determine how the insect arrived in North America.

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"Having this reference genome will help provide a broader biological picture of the Asian giant hornet,” Anna Childers, a computational biologist with the ARS Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and coordinator of the genome team said in a release. “It also will help build an understanding of the dynamics of any Asian giant hornet populations in this country and how they may adapt as well as possibly provide information to sharpen the development of controls to prevent them from becoming established."

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