Government staff in Washington state have eradicated their third nest of Asian giant hornets, also known as “murder hornets,” of 2021.
The state’s Department of Agriculture confirmed the nest was destroyed Thursday morning east of Blaine in Whatcom County, just across the border crossing in B.C.
It’s the same area staff destroyed the two other nests, said Karla Salp, public engagement specialist for the department.
“The nests that we’ve eradicated this year have all been relatively close to the nest we eradicated late last year, so they could all be from that nest,” she told Global News.
“As you know, it was late in the year and there were a lot of queens in that nest, but also we suspected some may have had already left the nest.”
There has still been no confirmed sign of the hornets in B.C. this year.
The invasive insect is normally found in China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and other countries in Asia. Washington state and B.C. are the only places they’ve been found on the continent.
Salp said the department is working on DNA tests to determine whether the latest nest contained hornets from the nest destroyed in 2020.
The species is of particular concern because of its penchant for attacking honey bee hives. At two inches in length, or five centimetres, a small group of them can destroy a bee hive in just a few hours.
So far, however, Salp said the resident population hasn’t caused any problems.
“We had attacks reported in 2019, but we didn’t have any in 2020 and we haven’t had any so far this year.”
According to state agriculture officials, the biggest challenge in catching the insects is the lack of effective traps.
The bottle trap, filled with an orange juice and rice wine mixture, doesn’t always do the trick, Salp said, so staff rely heavily on public reporting.
The insects were first spotted in North America in 2019 near Nanaimo, B.C. That fall, the first known Asian giant hornet nest in Canada was wiped out.
Anyone who spots one of these 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