Asian Giant Hornets, aka “murder hornets”, don’t belong in the United States. They accidentally made their way here from Asia, probably by hopping a ride on a sea vessel. And yeah, we don’t want them here. Not just because of their scary name, but because the invasive species kills native bee populations which are critical to the nation’s crops and ecosystems.
In order to keep an eye on the little rascals, scientists tied tiny little radio transmitters to the waists of three murder hornets in Washington state. Then let them go. When telemetry from the transmitters showed a possible murder hornet nest in Blaine, Washington, they donned their bee suits, grabbed their vacuum cleaners, and headed out the door. According to scientists, they got there “just in the nick of time”.
Scientists vacuumed up the nest which according to them, were about to enter their “slaughter phase”, the time when they skirt from their nests and attack and kill all honeybees in the vicinity (hence the name, “murder hornets”). About five hundred hornets were vacuumed from the nest and sealed in a bag. They were taken to a nearby laboratory where they can be studied.
In addition to the live hornets, the 14-inch long nest contained hundreds of larvae and pupae as well as some eggs. Scientists say the nest was capable of holding up to 200 queens. This is important because each queen can leave the nest to form their own colony of psychopathic hornets.
Lest you breathe a sigh of relief, scientists confirmed that at least three queens were found in a nearby water bucket after the extraction. That means they almost certainly did not capture all of the hornets in the area. State Agriculture Department officials say they will continue watching for murder hornets in the area and confirm that local police have been instructed to be on the lookout for large hornets with bad attitudes.
If you’re worried about murder hornets invading the country and stealing all the babies, well, don’t. They are not going to hunt you down and murder you. But they do hunt down and murder bees. And they do sting. And they do hurt. So if you see a nest – run (and maybe scream for dramatic effect).