America's First Murder Hornet Nest Found in Washington State

Alonzo Simpson
October 24, 2020

Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologists have successfully located an Asian giant hornet nest on a property in Blaine, Wash., the agency reported Friday.

The nest was found inside the cavity of a tree on private property, the Agriculture Department said.

"Only a couple of hornets can slaughter an entire healthy honeybee hive in just a matter of a few hours", Sven-Erik Spichiger, the chief entomologist for the state's agriculture department, told NPR last week.

The two-inch insects, dubbed "murder hornets" due to their strong sting that can be fatal to some humans, especially after repeated stings, were first spotted in the USA in December 2019 when the Washington State Department of Agriculture verified two reported sightings near Blaine.

"The successful detection of a nest comes after a WSDA trapper collected two live Asian giant hornets on October 21, caught in a new type of trap the agency had placed in the area", the WSDA news release states.

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Video shot by the WSDA shows one of the hornets emerging from the tree, its facial features clearly visible from a distance.

While murder hornets only actually kill a few dozen people in Asian countries each year, scientists are anxious about what their presence will mean for native honeybee hives in an agricultural area that depends on pollinators.

After weeks of searching, the agency said it found the nest of Asian giant hornets in Blaine, a city north of Seattle near the Canadian border. While murder hornets normally nest in the ground, they can sometimes be found nesting in dead trees. Several more were subsequently caught, all in Whatcom County. It's not typically aggressive toward humans, but its sting can still pose a significant health threat.

It was first spotted in Washington in December 2019, and since then, the state's department of agriculture has been on the hunt for the invasive species.

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