‘Murder Hornet’ Caught Alive for the First Time in Washington State

A live Asian giant hornet, known as a ‘murder hornet,’ was trapped in Washington state this week.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture published a news release announcing the capture, which occurred near Birch Bay in Whatcom County sometime in July. Now, researchers are trying to figure out what to do when the next “murder hornets” are captured.

“This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work,” Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the department, said in a press release. “But it also means we have work to do.”

Scientists want to destroy the population of hornets by placing trackers on the captured insects and freeing them to flee back to their colonies. When scientists home in on the colony, the hornets will be eliminated.

“WSDA hopes to find and destroy the nest by mid-September before the colony would begin creating new reproducing queens and drones,” the news release read. “Until that time, the colony will only contain the queen and worker Asian giant hornets. Destroying the nest before new queens emerge and mate will prevent the spread of this invasive pest.”

Five other murder hornets have been spotted in Washington state after it closed down due to coronavirus. Last year, a single nest was found and destroyed in Canada.

The hornets are named for their ability to kill honeybees. Their sting can also cause life-threatening allergens to humans.

A study shows that the hornet killed between 30 to 50 people in its native Japan each year. But one expert said the chances that the hornet will hurt humans is small.

“They are not ‘murder hornets.’ They are just hornets,” Chris Looney, an entomologist with the state agriculture department said, in May. “The number of people who are stung and have to seek medical attention is incredibly small.”Related Stories:

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