More ‘murder hornets’ are being found and destroyed

More ‘murder hornets’ are being found and destroyed

Entomologists in Washington state have destroyed two nests of the Asian giant hornet so far this year — nicknamed the “murder hornet” — and plan to destroy another nest as they try to wipe out the insects. Trying, an invasive species that can kill bees, first appeared in the Pacific Northwest in 2019.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture said on social media on Saturday that it had found two nests containing insects from the world’s largest hornet species and destroyed one of them. Department spokeswoman Amber Bates said Monday that the first nest was destroyed a few weeks ago.

“The aim is to eradicate them completely,” she said in a telephone interview, “after two consecutive years of negative results would consider the Hornet to be completely exterminated.”

“Right now we’re doing our best to see how many are out there,” she said.

The Asian giant hornet was first seen in the United States in December 2019 in Washington state, when a resident of Blaine, a town near the border with Canada, found one of the dead insects. It was handed over to state entomologists, and the search for more hornets began.

Agriculture officials issued an alert that hornets could pose a threat to bees, whose hives could be wiped out by hornets in hours. Ms Bates said the department has established a tip line and links to watch, relying on the public to report locations.

As state officials determined to trap more hornets, they turned to a service within the federal U.S. Department of Agriculture that assisted in tracking hornets using radio tags, which were used to track spotted lantern flies, was used to study the movements of an invasive species. causing problems on the east coast.

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The approach worked. One hornet, studded with a clinging tracker, eventually led the entomologist to a nest about eight feet above a tree in an area of ​​woods and farmland about 25 miles south of Vancouver. In October last year, the state Department of Agriculture announced that it had destroyed the nest, the first time it had been wiped out in the United States.

Officials said a team sealed the nest with foam, wrapped the tree in plastic and pulled out the horns.

Ms Bates said the same technique was used this year in removing the nest, with a drug at the site in case a hornet stung someone. (The Hornet’s stinger is long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit, and its sting has been described in excruciating terms.) Protective gear was used by the crew during the operation, including to immobilize the Hornet. It also involved injecting carbon dioxide into the air, she said.

He said a queen hornet was decapitated on Saturday.

Ms Bates said the four nests found so far were in the same general area within a few miles of each other in northern Whatcom County.

Scientists do not know exactly how and when the insects arrived in the United States. The USDA said hornets could have been introduced into the country through illegal importation of live specimens used for food and medicinal purposes.

The insects’ nickname (“killing hornets”) comes from their predatory behavior: they attack and destroy beehives, killing the bees by killing them, which entomologists call their “slaughter stage”. They then invade and take the hives as their own, feeding on their young bee larvae and pupae.

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“Although they do not typically attack people or pets, they may attack when threatened,” the Washington State Department of Agriculture said in a statement. “Their sting is longer than the sting of a bee and their venom is more venomous. They may also sting repeatedly.” For people with allergies, stings can be fatal.

Hornets are distinguished by their yellow heads and can grow to be about two inches long, with a stinger of about six millimeters long or about a quarter-inch. They can wipe out entire hives of bees, which serve as important pollinators for crops.

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