1st Murder Hornet Nest Found In US Destroyed, So Good Omen Maybe?

by Julie Scagell

The nest was found after scientists began tracking the hornets in July

You can officially scratch murder hornet invasion off your 2020 Bingo card. The Washington State Department of Agriculture destroyed the first (and crossing fingers only) murder hornet’s nest found in the country.

According to CNET, the nest of Asian giant hornets was the size of a basketball and held approximately 100 to 200 hornets. The WSDA crew who looked like a SWAT team of Storm Troopers vacuumed the hornets from a tree into large canisters.

“Got ‘em,” they said in part on Twitter. “Vacuumed out several #AsianGiantHornets from a tree cavity near Blaine this morning.” The accompanying video of said canister is not for the faint of heart but it does mean 2020 is looking up.

The WSDA has been actively looking for the nests since the insects were first spotted in Washington in December 2019. It took the team until July to trap the first live hornet. Since then, they’ve been using dental floss to tie wee radio trackers on them to be able to track them back to their nests.

The WSDA does believe there may be more nests in the area and that “stopping this cold is very crucial,” said Sven Spichiger, an entomologist with WSDA, during a press conference on Friday. “If it becomes established, this hornet will have negative impacts on the environment, economy, and public health of Washington State.”

The hornets, which are native to East Asia and Japan, typically don’t attack people (though they do kill around 50 people a year in Japan) but they do go after honeybee colonies which impacts our nation’s food supply as honey bees pollinate plants producing fruit, nuts, and vegetables.

The hornets kill honeybees by biting their heads off and then feeding on its pupae and larvae, according to Science Alert, and even a small group of murder hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in just hours. Once you’re done gagging, there’s a silver lining to all this: It means 2020 is looking up, am I right?!?

Murder hornets entered the news cycle in this dumpster fire of a year, and no one was shocked. Add that to a global pandemic, overwhelming police brutality in the spotlight, RBG’s death and the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, and everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth on the daily — and anyone will take some good news where it comes. Here’s hoping they’ll be more to celebrate next week. But until then, we have the hornets.

If you think it’s no biggie, imagine getting stung by one of these puppies. A researcher in Canada, where the hornets have also infiltrated, said the hornets penetrated both his beekeeping suit and layers of sweatpants underneath. “It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh,” Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist, said.

Here’s hoping this is a sign of things to come.