‘Murder hornet’ nest cut from tree in Washington state; 1,500 developing insects found inside

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A queen Asian giant hornet is shown on a nest built inside a tree in Whatcom County, Wash. (WSDA Photo)

Another Asian giant hornet nest has been removed from a tree in Washington as the state’s Department of Agriculture tries to stay a step ahead of the invasive pest sometimes called the “murder hornet.”

WSDA took the nest out of the inside of an alder tree in Whatcom County, east of Blaine, Wash., on Wednesday. It was located about two miles from where a nest was cut from another tree last year and not far from where a live hornet was sighted on Aug. 11.

WSDA said in a news release Thursday that its staff vacuumed 113 worker hornets from the nest and netted an additional 67 hornets in the area. As bark and decayed wood was removed from the base of the tree, workers discovered that the hornets had chewed out the interior of the tree to make room for a nine-comb nest. It contained nearly 1,500 hornets in various stages of development.

WSDA tweeted an image of the queen of the nest and said she was “BIG.”

A WSDA worker poses with the Asian giant hornet nest located inside a tree in rural Northwest Washington state. (WSDA Photo)

The portion of the tree with the nest was cut and transported to Washington State University Extension in Bellingham, Wash. for further analysis.

The nest was located last week using tiny radio tracking technology strapped to a hornet that was captured in a trap and then released. The high-tech insect tracking method was employed last year and involved some device insight and guidance from a researcher at the University of Washington.

WSDA credited the public’s help in continuing to locate and identify the hornets.

“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,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said in a statement. “We expect there are more nests out there and, like this one, we hope to find them before they can produce new queens. Your report may be the one that leads us to a nest.”

The Asian giant hornet is not native to the U.S. and is the world’s largest species of hornet. The first-ever sightings occurred in the U.S. in December 2019 in Washington state. The hornets are known to attack and destroy honeybee hives and can kill an entire hive in a matter of hours.

WSDA will continue to trap for Asian giant hornets through the end of November.

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