This is an update to our blog post a few days ago, that the first Asian giant hornet nest of 2021 had been identified in Washington state thanks to one citizen’s report of a hornet sighting. Subsequently 3 hornets were tagged with tracking devices and one of them led entomologists straight to the nest.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) announced on Thursday it eradicated the first nest of Asian giant hornets discovered in 2021. They are referred to by the press as "murder hornets.”
These hornets are huge, growing to a length of over 2 inches. For two years, Washington state has tried to limit the spread of these hornets. They are known to decimate honeybee hives and their stings can be painful and even deadly to humans.
The department is to be commended for swift and successful annihilation of the hornets, since the first reported sighting was on August 11 of this year, and by August 25 the nest was wiped out.
The nest was not far from where this sighting occurred, within a quarter of a mile of the Canadian border in Whatcom County. It was only two miles away from the nest that the department destroyed last October. This indicates there could well be a concentration of these invasive hornets in that area.
This 5:56-minute video by CBS Sunday Morning is from summer 2020 when the first invasion of Asian giant hornets in Washington state occurred and the first nest was eradicated.
The nest was built in the base of a dead Alder tree. Inside, there were nearly 1,500 hornets "in various stages of development.” An additional 67 hornets were caught by nets in the area. The nest has been sent to the Washington State University Extension in Bellingham for further study.
Human workers vacuumed 113 worker hornets from the nest. The team removed decayed wood and bark near the nest's entrance and discovered the hornets had made a nest with nine layers of comb.
Managing entomologist, Sven Spichiger, said the search for these hornets is far from over. He believes there are more nests out there and hopes they can be found before new queens are produced.
Every call-in that reports a sighting could be the call that leads to the next nest.
The hornets are non-native to North America. They were first reported in the US in Whatcom County in 2019. This sparked a state and federal effort to eradicate them before the species could take hold. They're the world's largest hornet and they conduct "mass attacks" on honeybee hives that can destroy tens of thousands of bees within hours.