Crews returned this week to an Asian giant hornet nest they found earlier this month near Blaine, Washington, and removed more than 1,500 of the world’s largest hornets that were in various stages of development.
The Washington state Department of Agriculture has been tasked with eradicating the invasive species, also known as “murder hornets,” after the first hornets were discovered in the extreme northwest corner of Washington in December 2019.
The current nest was located after a resident near Blaine photographed a hornet on Aug. 11 as it was attacking paper wasp nests.
Crews then set traps, captured three of the hornets and tracked one of them to the nest located Aug. 19 about a quarter mile from where the hornet was photographed, and less than two miles from the nest that was located and eradicated last year in Whatcom County.
State workers began on Wednesday using a vacuum to capture 113 worker hornets from the nest, located at the base of an alder tree, according to a news release. When the crews removed bark from the tree, they discovered a nine-layer comb that had about 1,500 hornets in various stages of development.
“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. “We expect there are more nests out there and, like this one, we hope to find them before they can produce new queens.”
Anne LeBrun, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service praised the coordination between state and federal agencies in the effort.
“We are pleased to play a role in this collaborative success by sharing technical expertise, providing financial support, and collaborating on survey and research efforts,” said LeBrun in the release. “Public involvement remains an essential part of eradicating this hornet.”
Spichiger said the key for future success remains on residents near Blaine continuing to report any sightings. The agriculture department has an online reporting form at agr.wa.gov/hornets.