Officials Capture First Deadly ‘Murder Hornet’ In Washington State As They Race to Find Nest Before Mating Season
Just when we thought 2020 could not get any worse, deadly murder hornets somehow made their way to the United States from Asia. Now, officials have captured the first deadly murder hornet in Washington state as they continue to be in a race against time to find the insects’ nest before mating season begins.
Daily Mail reported that the Washington State Department of Agriculture released a statement saying that the state’s first Asian giant hornet, which has been nicknamed “murder hornet,” was trapped on July 14. Officials managed to capture the hornet using a bottle trap that they had set up near Birch Bay in Whatcom County.
This marks the first time a hornet was found in a set trap, rather than being spotted in the wild, as it had been in the five previous sightings in Washington.
“This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work,” said Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the department. “But it also means we have work to do.”
Agriculture officials now only have two months to find the rest of the deadly murder hornets and remove them from Washington before mating season starts. The officials have warned that by mid-September, the Asian giant hornet colony will start reproducing new queens and drones.
“Destroying the nest before new queens emerge and mate will prevent the spread of this invasive pest,” the department said. Officials added that they plan to search for Asian giant hornets using infrared cameras and to place extra traps to capture the insect alive.
“If they catch live hornets, the department will attempt to tag and track them back to their colony. Once located, the agency will eradicate the colony,” the department said.
The WSDA went on to say that on top of the traps set up by the department, citizen scientists and others have placed more than 1,300 traps all over the state.
“If it becomes established, this hornet will have negative impacts on the environment, economy, and public health of Washington State,” the department website stated.
These murder hornets are more than double the size of honeybees, and they have a wingspan measuring more than three inches. The WSDA said that they attack and destroy hives, sometimes in a matter of hours.
“The hornets enter a ‘slaughter phase’ where they kill bees by decapitating them,” the department explained. “They then defend the hive as their own, taking the brood to feed their own young.”