First Murder Hornet Nest of 2021 Found in Northern Washington

The United States' first "murder hornet" nest of 2021 was found in northern Washington Thursday, about a week after the first sighting of the insect was reported.

The nest was found near Blaine, Washington, near the Canadian border and about a quarter mile east of where the first hornet was spotted August 11, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) said in a press release.

Between August 11 and August 17, WSDA staff tagged three of the murder hornets—also called Asian giant hornets—with trackers, as was done to locate a nest in October 2020.

One slipped out of the tracking device, another was never located, but one eventually led them to the nest Thursday morning, according to the WSDA.

WSDA entomologists are now developing a plan to eradicate the nest, which is expected to happen next week, according to WSDA. They worked with experts in Oregon and British Columbia to locate the nest.

"Teamwork has been the key to success with this effort," Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist, said in the statement. "Whether it is the public reporting sightings and building traps or state and federal agencies working together, this is really a model for success in invasive species management."

The WSDA said in the statement there may still be more nests, and that people should report suspected Asian giant hornet sightings to the state.

This year's first sighting on August 11 was located about two miles from where the WSDA eradicated the apparent first-ever nest in the U.S. in October 2020, as Newsweek previously reported.

Asian giant hornets are not native to the United States and are an invasive species. They are usually found in parts of Asia, including India and Japan. It is not known exactly how they arrived in North America.

They are among the largest species of wasp in the world. Queens, which are larger than the rest of the colony, can grow up to two inches long. Workers are usually about an inch and a half long.

Asian giant hornets
The first murder hornet nest of 2021 was found in northern Washington on Thursday. Here, two hornets that were vacuumed from a tree on October 24, 2020 in Blaine, Washington. ELAINE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The hornets can be dangerous to humans. They attack in groups, and their long stingers are capable of puncturing thick protective clothing. The amount of venom a colony can inject through sustained stinging makes them a threat to young children and people with underlying health conditions. However, they do not often seek out humans and are more dangerous to honeybees.

Sightings of the hornets were first confirmed in the U.S. in December 2019. Experts told Newsweek in August 2020 the hornets have the potential to spread across the country if they are not eradicated in Washington.

Newsweek reached out to the WSDA for further comment Saturday evening but had not heard back by time of publication. This article will be updated with any response.