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Scientists find first-ever 'murder hornet' nest in Washington state

Scientists find first-ever 'murder hornet' nest in Washington state
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Scientists in Washington state have located the first “murder hornet" nest in the country, the state’s department of agriculture announced in a press release Friday. 

According to the statement, entomologists found the Asian giant hornet nest in a tree on a property east of Blaine, Wash., in Whatcom County due to a radio tracker placed on a previously captured hornet. 

While Asian giant hornets normally nest in the ground, they can occasionally be found in dead trees, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). 

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Officials from the agency reportedly saw dozens of the hornets entering and exiting the tree. 

The department said in the press release that it plans on carefully destroying the nest on Saturday in order to prevent further spread of the hornets. 

Asian giant hornets are not native to the U.S. and in Japan are estimated to kill approximately 50 people a year, according to WSDA. 

They are also the world's largest hornet and a predator of honeybees and other insects, with a small group of hornets able to kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours. 

WSDA recorded the first confirmed Asian giant hornet in the state in December 2019. 

In August, the department announced it had captured the first male “murder hornet” in July, months after it had found a queen and weeks earlier than anticipated for the season. 

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“Trapping a male Asian giant hornet in July initially came as a surprise,” Sven Spichiger, the WSDA's managing entomologist, said in a statement at the time

“But further examination of the research and consultation with international experts confirmed that a few males can indeed emerge early in the season,” Spichiger added.

Victims have described the sting of the world's largest hornet species, which can break through beekeeper suits, as feeling like hot metal piercing skin.