The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) announced on Friday that a week’s worth of searching had finally yielded what entomologists and locals alike had long feared: the Asian giant hornet is building nests in the United States. The officials found one in a tree hollow in Blaine, a town on the US-Canada border.
Officials said a treeborne nest is unusual, since the hornets typically nest in the ground, but it’s not unknown.
“The successful detection of a nest comes after a WSDA trapper collected two live Asian giant hornets on Oct. 21, caught in a new type of trap the agency had placed in the area,” the WSDA news release states. “Two more hornets, also living, were found in another trap the morning of Oct. 22 when WSDA staff arrived in the area to tag the previously trapped hornets with radio trackers and follow one back to its nest.”
The WSDA notes the entomologists attached radio tracking devices to three hornets, leading them to the nest on Thursday evening. Officials plan to return on Saturday to eradicate the nest, after the weather improves.
Blaine was also where the first sighting of an Asian giant hornet in the US was made in December 2019. Since then, roughly 20 insects have been caught, all of them in Whatcom County, where Blaine is located.
The 2-inch-long insect is the largest of any kind of wasp or hornet and is native to East Asia. Aside from their extremely powerful stings and aggressive demeanor, the so-called “murder hornets” can decimate honeybee hives, using their powerful mandibles to bite the tiny bees in half before feeding them to their larvae. A small group of hornets can massacre an entire honeybee hive in a few hours.