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The Hunt for Murder Hornets Is Getting Desperate

Washington state officials want to destroy them before the 'slaughter phase' begins
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2020 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Shhh, be very quiet—they're hunting murder hornets. And the media is following. Outlets from CNN to the Seattle Times are reporting on Washington state officials as they track Asian giant hornets in a race against time. The goal: destroy them before the dreaded "slaughter phase" begins. The problem: finding them. "There's a couple of extremely wooded areas surrounding this neighborhood and it may be a very daunting task to find the exact location," says state entomologist Sven-Erik Spichiger near Blaine, a small city on the Canadian border where at least six of the hornets have been sighted. One was even tagged by scientists, but the glue took too long to dry, and it slid off, getting glue on the insect's wings and stopping it from flying home.

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The hornets made headlines after being sighted in America last year for the first time. They're famous for being big—up to two inches long—and inflicting horrible pain with venomous stingers that can be fatal, per the New York Times. Now Washington state hopes to destroy their nests before the hornets' annual "slaughter phase" kicks in: That's when "they will visit apiaries, basically mark a hive, attack it in force, removing every bee from the hive, decapitating them, killing all of the workers and then spending the next few days harvesting the brood and the pupae out of the hive as a food source," says Spichiger. Beekeepers who spot one are urged to call a new "hive attack hotline" and see which way it goes. After all, it might be flying home. (One was caught in a bottle trap.)

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