Washington state is on the case of a suspected murder hornet nest following the capture of the first male murder hornet in the US. The Asian giant hornet was retrieved July 29 from a bottle trap near Custer, Wash., where a mated queen had been found dead, reports KOMO News. This is a "heads up" that there's a nest in the area, state Department of Agriculture's managing entomologist Sven Spichiger tells the Bellingham Herald. He says "trapping a male Asian giant hornet in July initially came as a surprise" as colonies typically start producing new queens and drones in September. But experts "confirmed that a few males can indeed emerge early in the season."
The department has now found seven murder hornets this year, all in Whatcom County, per the Herald. Five were captured in the wild. An unmated queen was seized from a trap on July 14. More than 1,400 traps have been set with the goal of keeping the hornets alive—temporarily. Entomologists hope to tag and trace the hornets back to their colonies, which can then be eradicated. The murder hornet, native to Asia, attacks honey bees and can kill a human with multiple, painful stings—though they usually steer clear of us. They typically nest in hollows in the ground and emerge between July and October, with August and September considered the months of most activity. (Read more murder hornets stories.)