Scientists used dental floss and radio trackers to discover the first nest of “murder hornets” in the United States in Washington state.
A worker for the Washington state Agriculture Department caught two hornets Wednesday, and two more were captured Thursday, the Associated Press reported. Scientists then used dental floss to attach radio trackers to three of the hornets, which can grow as large as 2 inches long. (RELATED: Beekeeper Reportedly Dumps Nest With 1,500 Asian Hornets Outside Town Hall In France)
One of the radio trackers led scientists to the nest, which was found in a tree on private property in Blaine, a city near the Canadian border, Agriculture Department officials said. There were dozens of hornets flying in and out of the nest when it was found.
The rumors are true – our entomologists located the first-ever #AsianGiantHornet nest in the U.S. late yesterday. Press conference at 2 p.m. pic.twitter.com/oXuE6urXff
— WA St Dept of Agr (@WSDAgov) October 23, 2020
The property owner gave permission for agency staff to destroy the nest and potentially take down the tree. Officials were planning to eliminate the nest Friday but had to delay due to bad weather, according to the report. They are now planning to destroy the nest Saturday.
Asian giant hornets are an invasive species that are normally found in Asian countries like China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and Vietnam, the Associated Press reported. The hornets’ stingers are long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit, and while they kill only a few dozen people per year in Asian countries, the sting is excruciatingly painful.
The biggest threat the hornets pose is to the local honeybee populations that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. It takes only hours for a few Asian giant hornets to decapitate and kill an entire hive of honeybees.
The hornets were first sighted in the United States in December of 2019, and scientists had been searching for a nest for months since the first hornet was trapped in July. It’s not known how they were able to get to North America, officials said according to the report. The Canadian province of British Columbia and Washington State are the only two places in North America where it has been seen.