Story at a glance

  • The Asian giant hornet is an invasive species not native to North America.
  • Researchers plan to destroy the nest on Saturday as the invasive insects can destroy entire hives of honeybees in a matter of hours and deliver painful stings to humans.
  • The insect made headlines earlier this year when it was reported they arrived in North America and were shown to viciously rip the heads of bees off in large numbers.

Researchers in Washington state have found the first ever nest of so-called “murder hornets” in the United States after weeks of trapping and searching for the invasive species that threaten honey bee populations, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) announced on Friday. 

Entomologists located the Asian giant hornet nest in a tree on a property east of Blaine, Wash., in Whatcom County on Thursday, after several live hornets were trapped earlier this week and fitted with radio trackers. 


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While the hornets typically nest in the ground, they can occasionally be found nesting in dead trees. Dozens of hornets were seen entering and exiting the nest while WSDA entomologists were present. 

The agency plans to destroy the nest on Saturday and remove the tree if necessary as the invasive insects can destroy entire hives of honeybees in a matter of hours and deliver painful stings to humans.

A recent study by researchers at Washington State University found the hornets could potentially spread rapidly throughout western Washington and Oregon within 20 years if left unchecked, threatening honeybee populations and crops that depend on pollination. 

Scientists began actively searching Asian giant hornet nests since the first were caught earlier this year. The first confirmation the insects were in Washington state occurred in December 2019 and the first trapped in July. Several more were later caught in Whatcom County. 

The hornet is the largest in the world at 2 inches long and is typically found in China, Japan, Thailand and other Asian countries. 

The insect made headlines earlier this year when it was reported they arrived in North America and were shown to viciously rip the heads of bees off in large numbers.


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Published on Oct 23, 2020