A video from Washington state officials shares how murder hornets were removed.
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa Mandarinia), better known as the “murder hornet” is the world’s largest hornet. They have caused concern as a possible invasive species and are known for beheading colonies of honeybees. The sting from a murder hornet is quite painful and in extreme cases can be fatal.
Sightings of the species in recent months have made headlines, and the first nest ever found in the United States was located on October 22, 2020. The nest was found near Blaine, Washington, in a tree, about 10 feet high in a crevice. Officials suspect more nests in the area, though this one is the only one located so far.
A team from the Washington State Department of Agriculture removed the nest on October 24 and shared the process on video.
The team was dressed in protective suits and extracted the hornets early in the morning. They thought most of the hornets would die in the process, however, despite being vacuumed out of the tree, all 85 survived. One member of the team Chris Looney, WSDA entomologist, said the hornets were very cold so they were slow and docile. The specimens will not be destroyed; they will be used to study the species and learn more.
The tree with the nest was filled with foam and wrapped in plastic after the hornets were extracted. It was cut open and examined, in particular, so the team could see if new queens were being produced. Remarkably, when the tree was examined, they discovered two live queens still crawling around and were able to capture both. There were additional worker hornets in the nest that were also captured once the tree was split open.
Native to Asia, the murder hornet was first spotted in the United States last December near Blaine, and the first live specimen was captured in July 2020. They have also been spotted in British Columbia. They pose a significant threat to the honeybee population, so there is much concern about the species growing in Washington state and moving elsewhere. A blog has been set up that shares pictures of the hornets and the nest, as well as updates on what researchers find.
What do you think about this murder hornet capture? Do you have any bee or wasp management advice to share with us? Sound off on all this in the comments.