Scientists manage to eradicate the first nest of ‘killer hornets’ in Washington

Image from Twitter

American scientists have successfully destroyed the first giant Asian hornet or ‘Vespa mandarinia‘ nest. These insects pose a major lethal threat not only to the honey bee population but to the residents of North America.

The first killer hornet nest, as this species is known in the world, was discovered in the American city of Blaine in Washington. It was found inside a tree, although normally these insects usually nest on the ground. However, from time to time their colonies may lodge in dead trees.

Previously, entomologists had managed to tie trackers to three hornets and one of them led them to discover the nest that, according to various reports, could be home to at least 200 specimens. What the scientists saw was shocking: dozens of insects moved in and out of that tree. 

An employee of the Washington Department of Agriculture was able to catch two specimens in a new type of trap that had been placed in the area. The video with some of them inside a scientific tube has been published by the agency on Twitter.

It is not yet clear how the Vespa mandarinia, whose common habitat is in China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam, have managed to migrate to the United States and Canada. The first confirmed detection of these insects in Washington took place in December 2019, and the first specimen ended up being caught in July 2020. 

If this insect manages to establish itself in Washington state, it will have them all to eventually spread over much of the West Coast, according to reports published in PNAS magazine.  

“We found many suitable climates in the U.S. and around the globe,” said study lead author Gengping Zhu and a postdoctoral fellow at Washington State University.

This species has a powerful sting with which it can inject poison into its victim. They usually use it against honey bees that pollinate crops and can destroy a colony in a matter of hours. Upon entering it, a giant Asian hornet launches a “killing” operation in which it kills bee after bee. And it is important because, in addition to these killers, common bees are also threatened by food loss, pesticide use and disease.

Its weapon is so sharp that it can penetrate the protective clothing of humans. This is the reason why these insects kill nearly 40 people in Asia annually. In fact, the queens of the Vespa mandarinia are capable of reaching more than 5 centimeters long.