Murder hornets from the first nest discovered on US soil have been successfully sucked out of a tree cavity and placed on ice after experts located the nest in Washington state this week by attaching radio trackers to the bugs.
The so-called murder hornets, known for their potentially fatal sting to humans and their ability to wipe out an entire bee hive in a matter of hours, were vacuumed out of the tree into a long plastic tube before being killed, marking the culmination of a complex removal process Saturday morning.
Workers from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) were seen sporting protective suits and working under the cover of darkness early Saturday to destroy the nest that was the size of a basketball and home to up to 200 of the critters.
The dead hornets were placed on ice so they can be kept for research purposes, as experts remain baffled about how the bugs first entered the US.
WSDA entomologists first discovered the Asian giant hornet nest on private property in Blaine, Whatcom County, close to the US-Canada border Thursday.
The insects had set up camp inside the cavity of a tree on the land that had been cleared to build residential property on.
Its removal marks the first successful attempt to both locate and destroy a nest of the Asian giant hornets in America since the critters were first sighted in the country at the end of last year.
Murder hornets from the first nest in the US have been successfully sucked out of a tree cavity and placed on ice after experts discovered the nest in Washington state
Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working in pre-dawn darkness illuminated with red lamps, vacuum a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree
A Washington State Department of Agriculture workers holds two of the Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree Saturday
The WSDA announced late Saturday morning that the removal of the Asian giant hornet nest had been a success
The WSDA announced late Saturday morning that the removal of the Asian giant hornet nest had been a success.
‘Got ‘em,’ the department tweeted alongside a video of dozens of the insects trapped inside a clear, one-metre cylinder.
‘The WSDA Pest Program vacuumed numerous specimens out of the Asian giant hornet nest located in a tree cavity near Blaine, WA,’ the department said in a statement.
WSDA workers were pictured wearing thick protective suits in pre-dawn darkness Saturday illuminated with red lamps as they worked to vacuum the nest from the tree.
The suits were necessary to prevent the pesky insects hurting the experts with their 6-millimeter-long stingers – which have been known in severe cases to kill humans.
Workers also wore face shields to prevent the trapped hornets spitting a painful venom into their eyes.
Sven-Erik Spichiger, an entomologist for the Agriculture Department, on Friday outlined the careful plan for Saturday’s extermination.
The cavity of the tree was filled with foam and covered with plastic wrap to prevent the hornets from escaping.
Then, a tube was inserted to vacuum up the hornets trapped inside and deposit them in a collection chamber.
Workers pull on protective suits before attempting to eradicate the nest. ‘The WSDA Pest Program vacuumed numerous specimens out of the Asian giant hornet nest located in a tree cavity near Blaine, WA,’ the department said in a statement
Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, smiles as he walks with a canister of Asian giant hornets after the successful removal
The WSDA announced late Saturday morning that the removal of the Asian giant hornet nest had been a success after a spokesman earlier said it could go on past one day
Spichiger said Friday: ‘We extract them alive. We will kill them.’
He said the tree would then be cut down to extract newborn hornets and learn if any queens had left the hive already.
Officials suspect more nests may be in the area and they will keep searching for the pesky insects.
‘It’s still a very small population, and we are actively hunting them,’ Spichiger said.
Hector Castro, a spokesperson for WSDA, told DailyMail.com early Saturday the department was unsure if the full extermination would be completed in a single day.
Around 200 murder hornets were ‘extracted alive and killed’ Saturday. An Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday
The insects had set up camp inside the cavity of a tree on the land that had been cleared to build residential property on (pictured)
Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) workers hold an antenna as they follow a hornet wearing a tracking device to the nest Thursday
However by around 10:30 a.m. local time the department said it had been a success.
The original extermination plan was delayed from Friday due to the weather.
WSDA is expected to hold a news conference Monday to provide more details on the removal of the nest.
The net closed in on the pesky insects this week when experts captured and attached tracking devices to some of the hornets.
Workers with the state Agriculture Department had spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets.
Two Asian giant hornets were collected Wednesday using a new type of live trap and two more were caught in another trap Thursday morning.
Entomologists then attached radio trackers to three insects using dental floss and waited for one of them to lead them to the nest.
The second hornet was traced to the nest late Thursday afternoon where experts then watched dozens of hornets entering and exiting the tree.
‘While Asian giant hornets normally nest in the ground, they are occasionally found nesting in dead trees,’ the WSDA said in a statement.
Experts are seen attaching tracking devices to the bugs to lead them to the nest. Experts discovered the Asian giant hornet nest on private property in Blaine, Whatcom County, close to the US-Canada border Thursday
The insects had set up camp inside the cavity of a tree on the land that had been cleared to build residential property on
The nest in the tree was about the size of a basketball and contains an estimated 100 to 200 hornets
The WSDA planned to protect native honeybees through a complex extermination plan. Pictured a hornet with a tracker Thursday
‘Dozens of the hornets were seen entering and exiting the tree while the WSDA team was present.’
It was about 300 yards (274 meters) from the traps in the cavity of a tree on private property, officials said.
Dozens of the hornets were seen buzzing in and out of the tree about 7 or 8 feet (2 meters) above the ground.
The owner gave the state permission to eradicate the nest and remove the tree.
Officials have said it’s not known how they arrived in North America.
The discovery of the nest comes after officials in Washington have been trying to track down a murder hornet nest for months – ever since the first bug was spotted on US soil earlier at the end of last year.
The first confirmed detection of the hornet in the US was in December near Blaine and the first live hornet was trapped this July.
Just over 20 have been caught so far, all in Whatcom County.
The invasive insect is normally found in China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries.
The WSDA filled the cavity of the tree with foam and covered it with plastic wrap to prevent the hornets from escaping
A tube was then inserted to vacuum up the hornets trapped inside and deposit them in a collection chamber
Entomologist pictured attaching radio trackers to the insects before waiting for one of them to lead them to the nest
Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia are the only places the hornets have been found on the continent.
In the last month, there have been several sightings of the invasive pests in the Blaine area of the state.
It is not clear how they arrived in America.
The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest hornet at two inches and can decimate entire hives of honeybees, which are already under siege from problems like mites, diseases, pesticides and loss of food.
A small group of the hornets can kill an entire honeybee hive in hours, and they have already destroyed six or seven hives in Washington state, officials said.
Farmers in the northwestern US depend on those honey bees to pollinate many crops, including raspberries and blueberries.
Despite their nickname, the hornets kill at most a few dozen people a year in Asia, and experts say it is probably far less but they do deliver painful stings to humans.
Hornets, wasps and bees typically found in the US kill an average of 62 people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The insects were traced using the radio trackers (attached above) and found to have set up camp inside the cavity of a tree on land that had been cleared to build residential property on
A hornet after it was captured this week by the WSDA to be used to locate the nest
Murder Hornet statistics
Latin name: Vespa mandarinia
Adult length: 1 3/4 inches
Wingspan: Three inches
Sting length: Quarter of an inch
Description: Yellow face and large black and yellow striped abdomen. Large jaws and a noisy flier.
Asian giant hornets are more than double the size of honeybees, and have a wingspan measuring more than three inches
Natural habitat: Across Asia
Venom: It administers seven times more venom than a honeybee when it stings. This acts as a neurotoxin and can lead to seizures and cardiac arrests. The sting is described as incredibly painful.
Behavior: Insect emerges in April and nests in the ground. It predates on many insects, but particularly targets honeybees.
Risks: Has a habit of sacking bee hives, decapitating the workers and stealing the young. The European honeybee has no defense against the invader. Its stings could also prove fatal to Americans.