The Asian giant hornet is pretty much what it sounds like: an enormous, flying insect with a terrifically painful sting.
But on the plus side, the so-called “murder hornets” — that can grow up to two-and-half inches in length — are also large enough to support the long-antenna of a radio transmitter.
That means that if you can trap them, you can track them.
And that’s just what entomologists with the Washington State Department of Agriculture set out to do with this invasive, dangerous species.
This hornet, seen here enjoying a mound of jelly, is carrying a tracking device.
It and others led the hornet-hunters to a tree in Blaine, Washington, last week.
On Saturday, entomologists clad in space-suit like protective gear wrapped up the cavity, and vacuumed out the nest, the first one eradicated in North America.
Sven Spicheger is the Managing Entomologist with the WSDA.
“These particular invasive insects are known to be voracious predators of honeybees, particularly managed honeybees, where only a few Asian giant hornets can take out thirty thousand healthy honeybees in just a matter of a few hours. And unfortunately, the managed honeybees we use here have no natural defense against them that’s effective at all.”
The Asian giant hornets appeared in parts of the Pacific Northwest over the summer. And, in addition to menacing honey producers, they can also pose a threat to humans.
“Well, it’s a different kind of venom than honey bee venom, so most people are going to experience severe pain if they’re stung by one of these.”
Spicheger said that in general, the Asian giant hornets don’t target people. Bu he does not recommend trying to remove a nest on your own.
“I would highly recommend, though, that nobody attempts this without proper gear.”
On Saturday, the WSDA tweeted, “Got ’em.”