US scientists discover nation’s first ‘homicide hornet’ nest | US & Canada
The Washington Department of Agriculture plans to attempt to eradicate the Asian giant hornet nest on Saturday.
Scientists in the northwest of the USA have found the country’s first nest of Asian giant hornets, also known as “murder hornets”.
In a statement Friday, the Washington Department of Agriculture said entomologists had discovered the nest in the hollow of a tree on property in Blaine, a small town on the state’s northern border with Canada.
The agency said its team had observed “dozen” hornets entering and exiting the tree.
The nest is slated to eradicate on Saturday after bad weather forced it to postpone plans to dismantle it on Friday, it said.
“Asian giant hornets, an invasive pest that is not native to the United States, are the largest hornet in the world and a predator of honeybees and other insects,” the department’s statement said. “A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire beehive in a few hours.”
The two-inch insects, known as “murder hornets” because of their strong sting, which can be fatal to some people, especially after repeated stings, were first spotted in the United States in December 2019, when the Washington State Department of Agriculture saw two Blaine checked reported sightings nearby.
Additional sightings were reported in Washington state during the year.
The Agriculture Department said in September it was hoping to find and eradicate the hornet’s nest by the middle of the month before new queens emerge and mate, which would help prevent the invasive species from spreading.
The hornet has also been spotted in the Canadian province of British Columbia north of the Washington State border.
Asian giant hornets can sting through most beekeeping suits, releasing almost seven times as much venom as a honey bee and stinging multiple times, the AP news agency reported.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture also warned that while hornets are generally not aggressive towards humans, they can pose a health threat.
“Their string is more dangerous than local bees and wasps and can cause severe pain, swelling, necrosis and, in rare cases, death,” the website said.
In its statement on Friday, the department said it discovered the nest after four live hornets were found in two separate traps on October 21 and 22.
Entomologists were able to attach radio trackers to three of the hornets, one of which led them to the nest, it said.