Asian giant hornet nest reveals its secrets

Washington State Department of Agriculture staffers track down the first known Asian giant hornet nest on the continent. Credit: Washington State Department of Agriculture

When the Washington State Department of Agriculture destroyed a nest of Asian giant hornets last month, they not only gathered up the hundreds of hornets at various life stages from the first nest known in North America. They also collected some important information.

Although officials removed many of the queens before they could form new colonies, some may have escaped. At least three were found in a nearby water bucket, and a nest can hold hundreds of queens. And, officials say, more nests may be out there.

“The discoveries from this nest have left officials unsure of how the hornets got to the Pacific Northwest in the first place,” the New York Times reports. A mated queen may have arrived through international trade, or hornets may have been smuggled in to be raised as food.

Known as murder hornets because of the way they hunt, Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) could decimate honeybee and native bee populations if uncontrolled. “It really seems like we got there in the nick of time,” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, managing entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Read more from the New York Times.