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Entomologists find first US Asian giant hornet nest near Blaine

In this Sept. 30, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a live Asian giant hornet flutters but is unable to fly away as a tracking device placed by a researcher dangles behind near Blaine, Wash. (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) entomologists have found an Asian giant hornet nest on a property in Blaine, the first nest found in the United States.

Entomologists have been attempting to track these hornets and searching for nests in northern Washington with the goal of eradicating the giant hornets before they can spread down the West Coast.

The WSDA says it plans to attempt an eradication of the nest on Saturday, Oct. 24. Plans to eliminate the nest Friday were pushed back due to weather.

On Oct. 21, a trapper with the WSDA had two live Asian giant hornets caught in a new type of trap in the area. Two more hornets were found in another trap the morning of Oct. 22 when staff arrived to tag the previously trapped hornets and try to follow them back to a nest.

Radio trackers were attached to three hornets, one of which led them to the discovery of the nest.

The nest is inside the cavity of a tree on private property. The property owner has given permission for the eradication of the nest and to remove the tree, if necessary.

Asian giant hornets normally nest in the ground, but are also sometimes found in dead tress. The WSDA reports that dozens of hornets were seen entering and exiting the tree while the team was present.

WSDA has been actively searching for nests since the first confirmed detection of an Asian giant hornet in Washington was made in December 2019 and the first hornet trapped in July 2020. Several more were subsequently caught, all in Whatcom County.

State tracks live Asian giant hornet

“Asian giant hornets, an invasive pest not native to the U.S., are the world’s largest hornet and a predator of honey bees and other insects,” the WSDA writes. “A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.”

Learn more about the hornets and the state’s eradication project online here. Check back for updates as the WSDA is holding a virtual press conference at 2 p.m. Friday.

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