Karen Ducey / Stringer via Getty
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian giant hornet (A.K.A. the "murder hornet") was first spotted in the U.S. The invasive hornet is the largest in the world, and is known for devastating entire honey bee colonies during its so-called "slaughter phase."
Now, after weeks of trapping and tracking giant hornets, entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) say they've now found the first murder hornet nest in the U.S.
According to a press release, the nest was found on a property in Blaine, a city in Whatcom County. The state will attempt to eradicate the nest on Saturday, as initial plans for Friday were put off due to the weather.
"Using a network of traps, some set by WSDA staff and hundreds more placed by citizen scientists and other cooperators throughout the state, the entomologists have been diligently tracking sightings of the Asian giant hornet in an ongoing effort to find nests to eliminate them," the WSDA press release said.
According to the department, just a small group of the hornets can completely wipe out a honey bee nest in a matter of hours. Thus, tracking down where the hornets are coming from was a top priority.
The nest's successful detection followed the collection of several hornets in traps this week. Once caught, WSDA staff attached radio trackers to the wasps in order to follow them back to the nest. According to the department, a hornet led officials to the nest on Thursday.
"The nest is inside the cavity of a tree located on private property near an area cleared for a residential home," according to WSDA, and "dozens of the hornets were seen entering and exiting the tree while the WSDA team was present."