WSDA runs into challenges with third Asian giant hornet nest

Sep 17, 2021, 6:02 PM | Updated: Sep 20, 2021, 6:58 am
hornet nest...
The third Asian giant hornet nest is high up in a tree. (WSDA Twitter)
(WSDA Twitter)

It has been a busy week for the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), which is now in the process of eradicating its third Asian giant hornet nest of the year.

The department previously discovered its second nest of the year on Sept. 10, and eradicated it the next day.

Karla Salp, public engagement specialist for WSDA, told TVW this week that the process of finding the nest went very quickly.

“They tagged [the hornets with GPS trackers] and found the nest within a couple of hours,” she said.

State vacuums 100 hornets out of first Asian giant hornet nest of year in Whatcom County

The third nest is proving a tad more challenging to eradicate, though the WSDA still hopes to do so next week.

“The third nest is actually about 20 feet up in a tree, and so we’re having to obtain and bring in some special equipment,” Salp said.

The good news is that neither the first nest nor second nest had produced queens yet, which are the hornets that fly off and found new nests. It’s unknown if the third nest has produced queens.

The goal is to find and eradicate every single nest before the hornets hibernate for the winter, to prevent those new nests from being established by the queens next year.

“One hornet nest could produce up to maybe 300 new queens that could produce new nests,” Salp said. “That would be sort of worst-case scenario here.”

This is why, even after eradicating the third nest, the department will not be taking a rest any time soon, and will continue to diligently search for new hornets and nests.

“Even if we miss one nest, we’re going to be continuing this process next year,” Salp said. “So the goal is to get them all.”

So far, all the nests have been located within a few miles of each other, near Blaine. This is also where the single nest found last year was discovered.

However, a sighting was submitted this week of a suspicious insect near Nooksack, more than 20 miles east of where the hornets and hornet nests have been spotted. Entomologists with WSDA could not confirm from the photo if it really was a giant hornet, but they noted that it looked similar, which had them concerned; if it really was a hornet, that could indicate that they have spread a lot further than originally thought.

Many of the department’s discoveries have been thanks to photos sent in by people in Whatcom County to the WSDA’s hornet sightings page. Salp thanked the public for helping, noting that each photo captured, hornet tracked, and nest eradicated makes a huge difference in stopping the hornets from gaining a foothold.

“At a minimum, what our efforts are doing is slowing [the hornets’] spread,” Salp said.

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WSDA runs into challenges with third Asian giant hornet nest