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Washington’s first ‘murder hornet’ nest eradicated

Washington’s first ‘murder hornet’ nest eradicated
‘Murder hornets’ are officially called Asian hornets but earned nickname because of how they treat their prey

Washington state officials have destroyed a murder hornets nest, weeks after the first live sighting of the insect this year.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) vacuumed out 113 worker hornets and caught 67 other hornets in the area, officials said of Wednesday’s operation. The nest was home to 1,500 hornets.

The murder hornet nest was situated at the bottom of a dead alter tree in Whatcom county, just one-quarter of a mile away from the live sighting this year and two miles away from the nest they destroyed last year.

After the team removed the hornets, they took out the bark and decayed wood near the base of the tree.

There was a previous sighting of the Asian hornet in Seattle earlier this year but the insect was dead.

“Murder hornets” are officially called Asian hornets but earned their nickname because of how they treat their prey.

The insect’s sharp appendages can decimate a honeybee hive in hours and the insects pull out bees’  thoraxes to feed their young.

Native to East Asia, the Asian hornet first arrived in the US in December 2019 after being spotted near Vancouver Island, Canada four months earlier. It’s unclear how the hornet got to North America but it created much alarm.

Although rare, multiple murder hornet stings can kill people so authorities in Washington worked hard to eradicate the species two years ago to prevent it from breeding.

The Asian hornet kills between 12 to 26 people per year. Hornet, wasp, and bee stings kill in total an average of 62 people per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The WSDA will set traps for the murder hornet through November and said people who think they’ve seen the insect should report the sighting.  “Public involvement remains an essential part of eradicating this hornet,” Anne LeBrun, national policy manager for Pollinator Pest Programs, said in a statement.