In the early hours of Saturday morning, workers from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), wearing protective suits, sucked out the first nest of Asian giant hornets found in the United States; the nest was found in a tree cavity.
The hornets, which can be fatal to humans and are two inches long with 6-millimeter-long stingers, had been found in a nest the size of a basketball in Blaine, Whatcom County, after experts had attached radio trackers to them, The Daily Mail reported. Prior to the Saturday effort, the WSDA wrote:
The successful detection of a nest comes after a WSDA trapper collected two live Asian giant hornets on Oct. 21, caught in a new type of trap the agency had placed in the area. Two more hornets, also living, were found in another trap the morning of Oct. 22 when WSDA staff arrived in the area to tag the previously trapped hornets with radio trackers and follow one back to its nest. The entomologists were able to attach radio trackers to three hornets, the second of which lead them to the discovery of the nest, found about 4 p.m. on Oct. 22.
The nest is inside the cavity of a tree located on private property near an area cleared for a residential home. While Asian giant hornets normally nest in the ground, they are occasionally found nesting in dead trees. Dozens of the hornets were seen entering and exiting the tree while the WSDA team was present. The property owner has already provided permission for WSDA staff to eradicate the nest and remove the tree, if necessary.
The workers vacuumed what were estimated to be roughly 200 hornets from the cavity into a a long plastic tube before the hornets were killed.
The WSDA announced “Got ‘em” on Facebook after the successful effort.
Sven-Erik Spichiger, an entomologist for the Agriculture Department, explained that prior to the extraction of the hornets, the cavity of the tree was filled with foam and covered with plastic wrap. He added, “We extract them alive. We will kill them.” The Daily Mail added, “After the hornets were extracted, workers then filled the tree cavity with carbon dioxide and finished wrapping the tree in plastic. The tree will later be cut down to extract newborn hornets and learn if any queens had left the hive already.”
Spichiger warned, “It’s still a very small population, and we are actively hunting them.”
“It administers seven times more venom than a honeybee when it stings. This acts as a neurotoxin and can lead to seizures and cardiac arrests,” The Daily Mail noted. The WSDA wrote, “A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.” The Daily Mail pointed out, “Farmers in the northwestern U.S. depend on those honey bees to pollinate many crops, including raspberries and blueberries.”
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