Washington state tracks down another Asian giant hornet nest, with plans to eradicate it soon

An Asian giant hornet tagged with a radio tracker. (WSDA Photo)

The Washington State Department of Agriculture said Friday that it has located a new Asian giant hornet nest — the second of 2021 — just a couple weeks after removing a sizable colony of the invasive species from a tree east of Blaine, Wash.

WSDA tweeted a photo of one of the insects (above), sometimes referred to as “murder hornets,” tagged with a radio tracker. The tiny technology has been instrumental in locating two previous nests, one in October 2020 and one near the end of August.

“Eradication plans are underway and will take place in the next few days,” WSDA said in the tweet.

Asked about the location, WSDA tweeted back that the nest was located “southwest of the first nest this year, all within a few miles of each incident in North Whatcom County.

Earlier this week, WSDA tweeted images of hornets in what it called “two new confirmed sightings” by residents near where previous nests were eradicated. One photograph appeared to show a hornet attacking a paper wasp nest — behavior that was previously reported in early August. The agency replied in the tweet thread, saying that it was working on tagging and tracking the hornets on Wednesday.

One nest down but the work continues! Two new confirmed sightings in the general area of the 2020 and 2021 #AsianGiantHornet nest eradications. Your reports DO make a difference. Report at https://t.co/o8g9ZHvSAd or email [email protected] pic.twitter.com/jrM9CUiqtt

— Washington State Department of Agriculture (@WSDAgov) September 8, 2021

Sven-Erik Spichiger, managing entomologist at the WSDA, said in a news conference on Aug. 27 that trackers are tied to the hornets using Kevlar thread, and the insects are followed back to the nest by WSDA workers carrying receivers.

“The tracking event was as difficult as one might think when you’re trying to follow something that flies very quickly through Himalayan blackberry,” Spichiger said.

The nest eradicated last month was bigger than the one last fall — which was the first ever discovered in the United States. The August nest had nine combs containing nearly 1,500 life stages: 292 eggs, 422 larvae, 563 cap cells (hornets that are about to be produced), 195 workers vacuumed or netted, no males, one queen.

The Asian giant hornet is not native to the U.S. and is the world’s largest species of hornet. The first-ever sightings occurred in the U.S. in December 2019 in Northwest Washington state. The hornets are known to attack and destroy honeybee hives during a “slaughter phase” where they kill bees by decapitating them. A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.

WSDA has said that citizen spotters have played a key role in alerting the agency so they can identify new hornets, tag them and locate nests.


Science Asian giant hornet Insects Murder hornet Washington state department of agriculture