Murder hornet queen with unusual color discovered

Jenni Cena, pest biologist and trapping supervisor from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), holds a dead Asian Giant Hornet, also known as a murder hornet, as a sample specimen from Japan on July 29, 2020 in Bellingham, Washington.
Jenni Cena, pest biologist and trapping supervisor from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), holds a dead Asian Giant Hornet, also known as a murder hornet, as a sample specimen from Japan on July 29, 2020 in Bellingham, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images) Photo credit Getty Images
By , KYW Newsradio

Yes, murder hornets are still around.

This week, the Washington State Department of Agriculture destroyed its largest nest of the year so far and found a Queen inside with “interesting coloring,” according to a Facebook post.

“All workers — no males or virgin queens,” the Facebook post about the 10-comb reads. “The queen that started the nest had interesting coloring!”

Asian giant hornets or Vespa mandarinia – commonly known as “murder hornets” – are the world’s largest hornet species, growing up to two inches, according to The Bellingham Herald. They have large yellow/orange heads and are known for painful stings. A New York Times report said that the hornets kill up to 50 people a year in Japan and first arrived in the U.S. last year.

At the recently destroyed nest in Whatcom County, Wash., the department of agriculture found 10 combs, making it the largest out of three discovered this year. Earlier this year, a nest with nine combs was found with more than 1,500 hornets in “various stages of development,” said The Bellingham Herald.

Of the nests found this year, one reportedly required special equipment to eradicate because it was located 20-ft. up a tree. Just last week, the Washington State Agriculture Department also said it found “concerning” report about a live murder hornet in the Whatcom County area.

Last year, the first U.S. nest was found in the state.

When the team worked to eradicate a nest in August, murder hornets tried to attack them. Stingers from the hornets can puncture ordinary bee suits and people should be very cautious around them, though the typically only attack when provoked. In addition to being able to harm humans, murder hornets prey on honeybees and other pollinators, which could impact crops.

Information about what to do if you see a murder hornet is available through the Washington State Department of Agriculture, which has a $650,000 annual budget to eradicate them. The department said the hornets have also been spotted in Canada.

A dead Asian giant hornet was discovered closer to Seattle, near Marysville in mid-June, said USA Today. Entomologists from the state and U.S. Agriculture departments said it appeared to be unrelated to the findings of the hornets in Canada and near Blaine in Whatcom County.

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