US scientists to wipe out ‘murder hornets’ nest to preserve honeybees

Asian Hornet

Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out on Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said.

After weeks of searching, the agency said it found the nest of Asian giant hornets in Blaine, a city north of Seattle near the Canadian border.

Bad weather delayed plans to destroy the nest on Friday.

25 PHOTOS
Murder hornets nest removed
See Gallery
Murder hornets nest removed
A Washington State Department of Agriculture worker displays an Asian giant hornet taken from a nest Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials said. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, smiles as he walks with a canister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a nest in a tree behind him Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A Washington State Department of Agriculture workers holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Wearing a protective suit, Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney fills a tree cavity with carbon dioxide after vacuuming a nest of Asian giant hornets from inside it Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Washington State Department of Agriculture workers disconnect hoses from a cannister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Wearing a protective suit, Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney fills a tree cavity with carbon dioxide after vacuuming a nest of Asian giant hornets from inside it Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Wearing protective suits, Washington State Department of Agriculture workers finish wrapping a tree in plastic after working to eradicate a nest inside of Asian giant hornets Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working in pre-dawn darkness illuminated with red lamps, vacuum a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, walks with a canister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a nest in a tree behind him Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working in pre-dawn darkness illuminated with red lamps, vacuum a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree on October 24, 2020, in Blaine, Washington. - Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (Photo by Elaine Thompson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ELAINE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Washington State Department of Agriculture workers pull on protective suits before attempting to eradicate a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Washington State Department of Agriculture Outreach & Education Specialist Cassie Cichorz is assisted in putting on a protective suite before assisting to eradicate a nest of Asian giant hornets Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials said. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
In this still image taken from video provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet is shown emerging from a nest in a tree, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. The nest is the first of the so-called murder hornets to be found by scientists in the United States and workers hope to destroy the nest on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, to protect native honeybees. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
In this Oct. 7, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device affixed to it sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Wash. Washington state officials say they were again unsuccessful at live-tracking an Asian giant hornet while trying to find and destroy a nest of the so-called murder hornets. The Washington State Department of Agriculture said Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, that an entomologist used dental floss to tie a tracking device on a female hornet, only to lose signs of her when she went into the forest. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)
In this still image taken from video provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet is shown emerging from a nest in a tree, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. The nest is the first of the so-called murder hornets to be found by scientists in the United States and workers hope to destroy the nest on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, to protect native honeybees. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
In this Oct. 7, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device affixed to it sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Wash. Washington state officials say they were again unsuccessful at live-tracking an Asian giant hornet while trying to find and destroy a nest of the so-called murder hornets. The Washington State Department of Agriculture said Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, that an entomologist used dental floss to tie a tracking device on a female hornet, only to lose signs of her when she went into the forest. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)
In this Oct. 7, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, entomologist Chris Looney tracks a live Asian giant hornet affixed with a tracking device near Blaine, Wash. Washington state officials say they were again unsuccessful at live-tracking an Asian giant hornet while trying to find and destroy a nest of the so-called murder hornets. The Washington State Department of Agriculture said Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, that an entomologist used dental floss to tie a tracking device on a female hornet, only to lose signs of her when she went into the forest. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)
In this Oct. 7, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a live Asian giant hornet is affixed with a tracking device before being released near Blaine, Wash. Washington state officials say they were again unsuccessful at live-tracking an Asian giant hornet while trying to find and destroy a nest of the so-called murder hornets. The Washington State Department of Agriculture said Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, that an entomologist used dental floss to tie a tracking device on a female hornet, only to lose signs of her when she went into the forest. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)
In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, a worker attaches a tracking device to an Asian Giant Hornet, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, workers hold an antenna as they follow an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The world's largest hornet at two inches long, the invasive insects can decimate entire hives of honeybees and deliver painful stings to people.

Farmers in the northwestern US depend on those honeybees to pollinate many crops, including raspberries and blueberries.

Despite their nickname and the hype around the insect that has stirred fears in an already bleak year, the hornets kill at most a few dozen people a year in Asian countries, and experts say it is probably far less.

Meanwhile, hornets, wasps and bees typically found in the United States kill an average of 62 people a year, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

The real threat from Asian giant hornets is their devastating attacks on honeybees, which are already under siege from problems like mites, diseases, pesticides and loss of food.

A small group of the hornets can kill an entire honeybee hive in hours.

The nest was found after a worker for the Washington state Agriculture Department caught two of the large hornets in a trap on Wednesday.

Two more living hornets were captured in another trap on Thursday, the agency said.

Using dental floss, "entomologists were able to attach radio trackers to three hornets, the second of which led them to the discovery of the nest" on Thursday, agriculture officials said.

The nest was found inside the cavity of a tree on private property, the Agriculture Department said.

Dozens of the hornets were seen buzzing in and out of the tree.

The property owner has given permission for agency staff to eradicate the nest and remove the tree, if necessary.

Asian Hornet
A live Asian giant hornet flutters but is unable to fly away as a tracking device placed by a researcher dangles behind (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture/AP)

Scientists for the department have been searching for nests since the first Asian giant hornets were caught earlier this year.

The first confirmed detection of the hornet in the US was in December 2019 near Blaine and the first hornet was trapped this July.

Just over 20 have been caught so far, all in Whatcom County.

The invasive insect is normally found in China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries.

Officials have said it is not known how it arrived in North America.

Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia are the only places the hornets have been found on the continent.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS