‘Murder hornets’ vacuumed fromWash. nest
BLAINE, Wash.— Heavily protected crews inWashington state worked Saturday to destroy the first nest of so-called murder hornets discovered in the United States.
ThestateAgriculture Department had 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.
The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border is about the size of a basketball and contained an estimated 100 to 200 hornets, according to scientists who announced the find Friday.
Crewswearing thickprotective suits vacuumed the invasive insects from the cavity of a tree into canisters Saturday. The suits prevent the hornets’ 6-millimeterlong stingers from hurting workers, whoalsowore face shields because the trapped hornets can spit a painful venom.
The tree will be cut down to extract newborn hornets and learn if any queens have left the hive, scientists said. Officials will keep searching for more nests in the area.
Despite their nickname and the hype that has stirred fears, the world’s largest 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 killanaverage of62people a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
The real threat from Asian giant hornets — which are 2 inches long— is their devastating attacks on honeybees, which are already under siege from problems like diseases, pesticides and loss of food.
Washington state and British Columbia are the only places the hornetshave been found on the continent.
A protected entomologist shows a canister of so-called murder hornets sucked Saturday from aWashington tree.