Scientists in Washington, at Washington State University, discovered and exterminated dozens of Asian giant murder hornets among them, they found around 500 live specimens in various stages of development in their first known nest, officials communicated.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture issued a virtual press conference to explain the situation. Scientists made the discovery in late October, inside a tree on a private residence in Whatcom County.
The agency placed traps in the area in early October after a homeowner reported a specimen, Spichiger said. Four live hornets were caught in the traps which then entomologists attached radio trackers to three of them, and one led them to the nest on October 22nd.
Inside the nest researchers found:
- 190 total larvae that developed from eggs.
- 108 pupae, the next stage after larvae. They were nearly all queens.
- 112 workers, which included 85 workers previously vacuumed out of the nest.
- 76 queens, nearly all of them new virgin queens. New queens emerge from the nest, mate and then leave to find a place to spend winter and later start a new colony.
In total that’s more than 500 murder hornets that the team found in the nest which was about 14 inches long and up to 9 inches wide, CBS News reported.
Sven-Erik Spichiger, an entomologist, leading the fight to kill the hornets said: “We got there just in the nick of time.” Spichiger added that the nest of massive potentially deadly hornets in Washington state likely isn’t the only one in the U.S. “We do believe there are additional nests,” he said at the virtual conference on Tuesday.
The researchers say it’s impossible to know if any queens escaped before the first nest was destroyed. Vespa mandarinia or otherwise known as the giant Asian murder hornet is the world’s largest hornet species. Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) officials posted a video presenting the captured queens crawling inside vials. Most of the specimens were still alive when the nest was opened, WSDA said. The Department plans to continue trapping the hornets for at least three years to resolve the problem and determine whether or not the area is infested.
The hornets pose a serious threat to honeybee populations but are not deadly to most humans unless allergic. However, the hornets’ stinger is said to be extremely painful if stung, though rarely deadly it can spit venom.
You can watch the team examining the nest below.
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