On Wednesday, officials at the Washington state department of agriculture (WSDA) said they had destroyed the first “murder hornet” nest of the season. The nest was located near the town of Blaine along the Canadian border. Last October, the agency destroyed another nest just two miles from the recent spot.
On August 11, a resident reported sighting a living Asian giant hornet just a quarter a mile from October’s destroyed nest. The nest was located at the base of a dead alder tree, according to the officials.
Commonly referred to as “murder hornets,” Asian giant hornets are dangerous to many other insects, including bees. The hornets can kill a hive of bees in hours. They are the world’s largest hornet, but they are not native to North America. The murder hornets first showed up in the U.S. in 2019 and have been sighted on several occasions since.
WSDA officials say that eradicating the hornets is the only way to protect native species. They pose a threat to native honeybees and other native insects. Despite not showing notable aggression toward humans, the hornets do have extremely painful, if rarely fatal, stings.
Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist, said that they expect to find more nests out there. “While we are glad to have found and eradicated this nest so early in the season, this detection proves how important public reporting continues to be,” Spichiger said. “We expect there are more nests out there and, like this one, we hope to find them before they can produce new queens.”
Denis Jaffré, a French bee farmer, has been using a self-developed trapper to keep the hornets out of his farm since 2016. “If you don’t set up traps, you see the hornets fly in front of the beehive entrance, they catch a bee and they fly away with it to go and cut it into pieces somewhere else,” said Jaffré.
The hornets invaded France as early as 2004, and farmers had to improvise. Jaffré has since started producing his device commercially. This year, he has received so many orders for the device that he had to pause new orders.
Via The Guardian
Lead image via USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab