Washington state has trapped its first 'murder hornet'

Elias Hubbard
August 1, 2020

Scientists have been trying to trap the invasive insects and prevent an infestation since they were first spotted in the state previous year.

The Asian Giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), known popularly as "murder hornets", joins the list of nightmares offered by 2020, alongside the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.

The hornets, nicknamed from their propensity to attack and kill honeybees, regularly decapitate the adult bugs and eat the larvae and pupae. This is the first one found in a trap, according to a news release.

"This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work", Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the department said.

Trappers checked the bottle trap on July 14 and submitted the contents for processing at WSDA's entomology lab, where it was identified as an Asian giant hornet during processing on July 29.

They have crews ready to destroy any Asian giant hornet nests they find. "But it also means we have work to do".

WSDA is hoping to find and destroy the nest by mid-September before the colony creates new reproducing queens and drones - the colony will only contain the queen and worker Asian giant hornets until new queens are reproduced.

Now, researchers plan to look for hornet nests using infrared cameras, placing more traps so that a living insect can be caught. If they catch live hornets, the agriculture department will try to tag and track them back to their colony so the colony can be eradicated.

"If it becomes established, this hornet will have negative impacts on the environment, economy, and public health of Washington State", the department added.

Should they continue to repopulate, scientists worry the hornets could also decimate the honey bee population in the region.

Among the possibilities are global container ships, purchases shipped into the USA, travelers visiting the US or returning from another country, the state says on its website. They are most likely to be spotted in August or September.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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