WSDA runs into challenges with third Asian giant hornet nest
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.
Second 2021 nest is down. A third has been located within the same general area. We are working on plans for eradicating now. More updates to come in the next week. pic.twitter.com/kcbO9CXDCL
— Washington State Department of Agriculture (@WSDAgov) September 11, 2021
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.
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.
We received a concerning report of a suspected #AsianGiantHornet today – the location is much further east than any confirmed sighting. We cannot positively ID this image, the size, colors, and shape are consistent with AGH. Eyes open and phones handy in this area! pic.twitter.com/iGZIE2Dmw9
— Washington State Department of Agriculture (@WSDAgov) September 17, 2021
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.