Largest ‘murder hornet’ nest to-date destroyed, more than 1,500 insects

Officials destroyed a nest with more than a thousand “murder hornets” in Washington state, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).

Authorities said crews responded to rural Whatcom County after a report of an estimated 100 Asian giant hornets in a nest. Officials said after peeling back the bark on a dead tree, they discovered “nine layers” of honeycomb hosting about 1,500 hornets: adults, larvae, and eggs.

The report was the first nest sighting of murder hornets this year, and about two miles away from a smaller nest that officials exterminated in October, KING5 reported.

WSDA entomologist Sven Spichiger not only said the nest destroyed this week was three times bigger than the one found last year but that the hornets found this year were “more aggressive,” attributing their different temperament to warmer temperatures. Last year, only 500 murder hornets were discovered.

“While we are glad to have found and eradicated this nest so early in the season, this detection proves how important public reporting continues to be,” said Spichiger.

The aggressive, invasive species native to Asia is ecologically concerning because the hornets are known to hunt and attack honeybee and wasp hives, wiping them out entirely in just hours.

Their painful sting is also dangerous to human beings. Spichiger said some of the hornets tried to sting his staff members, but their safety gear protected them.

The WSDA said staff would continue setting up traps for the giant hornets through the end of the year and encouraged anyone who spotted one — dead or alive — to report it.

“We expect there are more nests out there,” Spichiger said. “And, like this one, we hope to find them before they can produce new queens. Your report may be the one that leads us to a nest.”

Officials said it could take three years to eradicate the hornets from the state.

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