Officials said scientists in Washington State have discovered the first nest of so-called killing horns in the state of Washington and plans to destroy it on Saturday.
Those working with the state’s Department of Agriculture have spent weeks exploring, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can inflict painful stings and spit poison, but honeybees The biggest threat to this is that farmers are dependent on pollen crops.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we did it,” agency spokesman Carla Salp said in a virtual briefing. The foul weather plan was delayed Friday to destroy the nests found in downtown Blaine, north of Seattle.
The nest is about the size of a basketball and contains an estimated 100 to 200 horns according to scientists who suspected it had been in the area since invasive insects started appearing at the end of last year. Officials have said that it is not known how they arrived in North America.
Despite his nickname and publicity Fears had erupted earlier in the foggy year, with the world’s largest horns hitting as many as a dozen people a year in Asian countries, and experts say it is probably too low. Meanwhile, hornets, wasps and bees commonly found in the United States have killed 62 people a year on average, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
The real threat from the Asian giant hornets – which are 2 inches (5 cm) tall – are their devastating attacks on honeybees, which are already beset by problems such as mites, diseases, pesticides and food loss. Officials said a small group of hornets could kill the entire honeybee hive in hours, and they had already destroyed six or seven hives.
The nest was found after an agriculture department worker trapped two horns on Wednesday. The agency said two more were caught on Thursday.
Agricultural officials said that using dental floss, “entomologists were able to attach radio trackers to the three hornets, the second of which discovered the nest on Thursday.”
Officials said it was about 300 yards (274 m) away from being trapped in a tree cavity on private property. Dozens of horns were seen buzzing in and out of trees 7 or 8 feet (2 m) above the ground. The owner is letting the state eliminate the nests and remove the tree.
Saturday’s plan is to avoid filling the cavity with foam and covering it with plastic wrap, said Sven-Eric Spicher, entomologist at the Department of Agriculture. He said that a tube would be inserted to vacuum the trapped hornets inside and store them in a collection chamber.
Spaniger said workers would wear thick protective suits that could prevent workers stinging 6-millimeter long stings of horns. They will also wear face shields as trapped horns can spew a painful poison in their eyes.
“We get them out alive,” he said. “We’ll kill them.”
The tree will be pruned to remove the newborn horns and if any queens have already left the hive, he said. Authorities suspect more nests may occur in the area and will continue the search.
“It is still a very small population, and we are actively hunting them, iger Spiechiger said.
Scientists from the department have been searching for the nest since the first Asian giant hornet was caught earlier this year. The first confirmed information of the Hornet in the US was with Blaine in December 2019 and the first live Hornet was stuck this July. More than 20 have been caught so far, all in Whitcomb County.
Invasive pests are commonly found in China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries. Washington State and the Canadian province of British Columbia are the only places where horns have been found on the continent.