Washington state officials say they eradicated the first “murder hornet” nest of 2021 on Wednesday.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture said the Asian giant hornet nest was discovered last week in the base of a dead alder tree near Blaine Wash., only about 400 metres from the Canada-U.S. border.
State and federal officials had been searching for the nest since one of the insects was spotted about half a kilometre away on Aug. 11. The sighting was about three kilometres from where a nest was destroyed last year.
WSDA staff vacuumed 113 worker hornets from the nest. Another 67 hornets were captured in the area, and some 1,500 immature hornets were found inside the nest.
The nest was located using radio tracking tags that were attached to several of the hornets, at least one of which did fly north of the border.
WSDA managing entomologist Sven Spichiger said the eradication of the nest highlights how important it is for people to report the nests.
“We expect there are more nests out there and, like this one, we hope to find them before they can produce new queens,” he said. “Your report may be the one that leads us to a nest.”
The hornets can grow up to five centimetres long and are the world’s largest hornets. They have large, yellow heads, black eyes, a black body and a black and yellow striped abdomen.
While they are not considered particularly dangerous to humans, the Invasive Species Council of B.C. warns they are capable of delivering painful stings and are a threat to people allergic to bees and wasps.
Anyone who spots one of the hornets in B.C. is urged to report it to the Invasive Species Council at 1-888-933-3722 or on their website.
— With files from Simon Little