First-ever giant ‘murder hornet’ nest in U.S. found in Whatcom County

by KOMO News Staff Friday, October 23rd 2020

BLAINE, Wash. – After weeks of trapping and searching, Washington state entomologists have found the first-ever Asian giant “murder hornet” nest in the U.S., the state Department of Agriculture confirmed Friday.

The nest was found in a tree on a property east of Blaine, Wash., in Whatcom County after agents were able to successfully live-track a captured hornet that was fitted with a radio tag.
Volume 90%Asian Giant Hornets leave a nest that was discovered in Whatcom County. (Video via: Washington Department of Agriculture)

State entomologists plan to destroy the nest on Saturday as part of an effort to eradicate the invasive giant insects before they have a chance to spread farther across the state. Initial plans to eliminate the nest on Friday were tabled due to the inclement weather.

The successful detection of a nest comes after a trapper collected two live Asian giant hornets on Wednesday, caught in a new type of trap the agency had placed in the area, agriculture officials said.

Two more hornets, also living, were found in another trap on Thursday morning when agents arrived in the area to tag the previously trapped hornets with radio trackers and follow one back to its nest.

The entomologists were able to attach radio trackers to three hornets, and one of them led to the discovery of the nest on Thursday afternoon.Volume 90%KOMO News Video

The nest is inside the cavity of a tree located on private property near an area cleared for a residential home. While Asian giant hornets normally nest in the ground, they are occasionally found nesting in dead trees. Dozens of the hornets were seen entering and exiting the tree.

The discovery of the nest follows two previous unsuccessful attempts to live-track hornets captured in the same immediate area just south of the Canadian border. It’s believed there may be at least one other murder hornet nest in the same area of Whatcom County.

The first confirmed detection of an Asian giant hornet in Washington state was made in December 2019 and the first hornet was caught in July after agents spent months placing traps in the area. Several more were subsequently caught, all in Whatcom County.

The invasive Asian giant hornet — the world’s largest at 2 inches— can decimate entire hives of honeybees and deliver painful stings to humans. Farmers in the northwestern U.S. depend on those honey bees to pollinate many crops, including raspberries and blueberries.

A new study has found that the Asian giant hornet, or “murder hornet,” which first appeared in Washington in 2019, could invade all of western Washington and Oregon within 20 years if left unchecked, decimating local honeybee populations and threatening crops that rely on pollination.

The study, by reasearchers at Washington State University, found that the climate of western Washington, Oregon and southwest British Columbia is ideal for the giant hornets and that they are likely capable of flying up to 68 miles per year.

Native to forested parts of Asia, the Asian giant hornet also deploys a potent sting, which is more dangerous than that of local bees and wasps and can be fatal to humans. (Click to Source)

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