State tracks live Asian giant hornet, getting closer to finding first nest

Oct 12, 2020, 2:29 PM
Asian giant hornet...
The Asian giant hornet caught most recently in Whatcom County. (State Department of Agriculture)
(State Department of Agriculture)

Another live Asian giant hornet was captured east of Blaine last week — and unlike the first attempt at the end of September, this time, scientists were able to attach a tracker and follow its movements for some time.

The radio tracking signal was lost before the hornet’s nest could be found, but State Department of Agriculture entomologist Sven Spichiger said they’re still zeroing in on the nest’s location, with the help of neighbors who are also observing the hornets. Some residents were even able to help track the Asian giant hornet on their phones with a special app.

“We are starting to narrow down exactly where the hornet nest is … We’re pretty sure this is going to lead us right where we need to go,” Spichiger said.

The entomologists believe they’ll be able to eradicate the nest soon, which they plan to do using a vacuum device to suck the hornets out of the nest. Any remaining hornets will be killed with carbon dioxide gas.

First attempt at tracking Asian giant hornet fails, but state still hopeful

“We think it’ll go pretty smoothly. We’ve practiced it a few times and we’re ready to go,” Spichiger said. “Obviously we haven’t practiced it with giant hornets trying to sting us, but we have every confidence that the [full-body] suits will protect us.”

But even with that nest gone, the work will not be done. It is believed there is a second nest in Birch Bay, and possibly a third within Blaine city limits.

“We did just get a trap hit downtown Blaine, which is a little too far away from the other areas where we’re working to not be considered another possible nest,” Spichiger said.

He said another Asian giant hornet was caught just across the border from Blaine in British Columbia the same day.

The original goal was to have all of the nests destroyed before the hornets’ fall breeding season, to prevent another generation of hornets being produced. However, the other two nests have not had as much activity that could reveal their whereabouts.

“We will do everything we can to eliminate the nests,” Spichiger said. “Whether we happen to be able to do this before breeding season is of course in question, because we are starting to approach breeding season now.”

During the breeding season, the hornets go into what is known as the “slaughter phase,” where they are especially aggressive toward smaller bees because they need higher-protein meals.

“We want to still locate and kill as many nests as possible … it’s not the point [in] the season we wanted to get to, but that’s where we’re at,” Spichiger said.

There have not yet been reports of giant hornets attacking Whatcom County beekeepers’ bees this year, but this did occur last year around this time. If you are a beekeeper who experiences an attack from Asian giant hornets, call Department of Agriculture entomologists at 360-902-1880.

Asian giant hornets are colloquially called “murder hornets” because of the way they prey on other bees, including honeybees. Their stings are only fatal to humans in very rare cases, such as allergic reactions.

The large, orange-colored hornets are native to East Asia, but scientists from Washington State University have stated that they are well suited to the climate here and could spread down the West Coast within the next two decades if left unchecked.

Right now, however, the hornets have not spread beyond the northern part of Whatcom County.

“That encourages me, because I was afraid we might have to be focusing on the entire western half of the state, because we just didn’t know what was going on,” Spichiger said. “But it looks like we really are concentrated in one area, which does give us a fighting chance.”

If you live in Whatcom County and see an Asian giant hornet, report it right away to the Department of Agriculture.

Local News

return schools, seattle...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle council urges school levy support ahead of February special elections

With King County special elections slated for Feb. 8, Seattle City Council is urging voters to pass two Seattle Public Schools tax levies.
6 hours ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Kent seeks refunds for missed trash pickups as collection resumes for Western Washington

Trash collection worker solidarity strikes ended Tuesday for Western Washington as Republic Services ratifies a new contract with Teamsters.
1 day ago
COVID-19 deaths, Snohomish County...
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

‘Occupancy is virtually 100%’: Just one available ICU bed in all of Snohomish County

As of Tuesday morning, there is only one intensive care bed available in all of Snohomish County, as hospitals continue to feel the strain.
1 day ago
King County COVID...
Nick Bowman

King County COVID cases finally trending down, but ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’

After soaring to record numbers in January, COVID-19 cases in King County appear to finally be trending in a downward direction.
1 day ago
Rumors camps...
Nick Bowman

UW expert: False rumors about forced quarantine for unvaccinated were ‘strategically amplified’

Rumors claiming that the state would soon be setting up forced quarantines for the unvaccinated spread like wildfire in recent weeks.
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

New mass COVID vaccination site opens in Snohomish County

A new indoor COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at the Everett Mall on Tuesday, and Snohomish County says a mass testing site is coming soon.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
State tracks live Asian giant hornet, getting closer to finding first nest