Fri. Sep 25th, 2020

Washington Officials Captured Invasive Murder Hornet, With Only Months Ahead Of Mating Season

The world’s largest species of hornet invaded Washington state in December. Now, seven months later, state officials have finally managed to catch one of the “murder hornets”— but they have less than two months to catch the rest before mating season begins and the species has a chance to grow. 

The Washington State Department of Agriculture announced on Friday that it captured its first Asian giant hornet on July 14 in a bottle trap near Birch Bay in Whatcom County. A lab confirmed the hornet as part of the invasive species on July 29. 

This was the first time the state found a murder hornet in a trap, rather than in the environment, a WSDA press release said. There have been five prior confirmed sightings of the hornet in the state. Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the state department, said the finding is “encouraging” because they now know the traps work. 

“But it also means we have work to do,” Spichiger said. 

Now, Washington officials are racing against the clock to find the rest of the hornets and eradicate them from the state before the hornets start to reproduce. Around mid-September, the queens will mate with male hornets and start reproducing new queens and workers, the department said. 

“Destroying the nest before new queens emerge and mate will prevent the spread of this invasive pest,” the department said.  

Officials are now using infrared cameras and placing additional traps to catch live hornets. They then plan to tag the hornets and track them back to their colony so that the entire colony can be destroyed. 

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

Photographs are Courtesy:   AP

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