First US Nest of Murder Hornets Found, Thanks to Dental Floss

The plan is to destroy it Saturday in Washington state
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 23, 2020 4:00 PM CDT
Scientists Find First US Nest of Murder Hornets
Entomologist Chris Looney tracks a live Asian giant hornet affixed with a tracking device near Blaine, Wash., this month.   (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the US and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said. Previously, a male hornet was found, but not the nest. 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. Bad weather delayed plans to destroy the nest Friday, the AP reports. The world's largest hornet at 2 inches long, the invasive insects can decimate entire hives of honeybees and deliver painful stings to people. Farmers in the northwestern US depend on honeybees to pollinate crops, including raspberries and blueberries. The invasive insect is normally found in Asian countries, and officials don't know how it arrived in North America.

Despite their nickname and the hype, the hornets kill at most a few dozen people a year in Asian countries. Meanwhile, hornets, wasps, and bees typically found in the US kill an average of 62 people a year. The real threat from Asian giant hornets is their devastating attacks on honeybees, already under siege from problems like mites, diseases, pesticides, and loss of food. A small group of the hornets can kill an entire honeybee hive in hours. The nest was found after a worker for the state Agriculture Department caught two of the large hornets in a trap Wednesday. Two more living hornets were captured in another trap Thursday, the agency said. Using dental floss, entomologists attached radio trackers to three hornets, "the second of which led them to the discovery of the nest," officials said. The nest was found in the cavity of a tree on private property.

(More murder hornets stories.)

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