Washington Officials Find Second Murder Hornet Nest This Year

Officials in Washington State announced Friday that they have found a second Asian giant hornet nest this year, just a few weeks after they located and destroyed another nest.

"Our team on the ground has located the second Asian giant hornet nest of 2021," the Washington State Department of Agriculture wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.

"Eradication plans are underway and will take place in the next few days," they added.

The department said that the nest is "southwest of the first nest this year, all within a few miles of each incident in North Whatcom county."

Washington Officials Find Second Murder Hornet Nest
Officials in Washington State said Friday that they had found a second Asian giant hornet nest, just a few weeks after they had found and destroyed another nest. Above, a sample specimen of a dead Asian giant hornet from Japan, also known as a murder hornet, is shown by a pest biologist from the Washington State Department of Agriculture on July 29, 2020, in Bellingham, Washington. Karen Ducey

In a post on Facebook on Thursday, the department said that it had been "able to tag and release a live hornet" after it confirmed two reports of Asian giant hornets the day before.

"Crews are currently out tracking the hornet, but have not located a nest," officials wrote at the time.

The nest is the third to be located in Washington's Whatcom County in the past two years, according to The Bellingham Herald, which first reported the department's discovery.

Asian giant hornets, also known as "murder hornets" are an invasive species in the U.S. The hornets are usually found in countries including India and Japan. The largest species in the world, Asian giant hornets grow up to two inches long with a three-inch wingspan.

The insects can be dangerous to humans, but experts stress that a bigger threat posed by the invasive species is its potential to wipe out honey bee populations.

After Washington officials found the hornet nest in August, they quickly moved to eradicate it and said that more than 1,500 hornets in various stages of development were found inside.

"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," Sven Spichiger, the department's managing entomologist, said at the time.

"We expect there are more nests out there and, like this one, we hope to find them before they can produce new queens."

The species was first spotted in the U.S. in September 2019. In an interview with Newsweek in August 2020, Marc Lame, clinical associate professor at Indiana University's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said he believed that if the hornets "are not stopped in Washington they will spread across the more temperate regions of the United States."

Newsweek reached out to the Washington State Department of Agriculture for comment but did not hear back before publication time.