An entomologist who helped destroy the first murder hornet nest found in the US says experts "got there just in the nick of time." Some 500 live murder hornets were found in some stage of development in the nest taken from a tree in Whatcom County, Wash., including almost 200 queens, Sven-Erik Spichiger tells the Guardian. Each queen potentially could've started its own nest. That's more than a little alarming as just a few of the 2-inch-long Asian giant hornets can destroy an entire hive of honeybees within hours. Spichiger says it's possible that other queens escaped before the nest was destroyed in late October. State scientists had attached radio trackers to trapped hornets, one of which led them to the nest. About 85 hornets were vacuumed out. The tree was then pumped full of carbon dioxide before the chunk containing the nest was removed, per ABC News.
Opening it up days later, scientists found a basketball-sized nest hiding hundreds of the invasive species, most of which were still alive. In all, there were 190 larvae; 108 pupae, almost all queens; 112 (female) workers; nine drone (male) bees; and 76 queens, almost all virgin queens, meaning they had not mated with a drone. These queens would've left the colony to find a place to spend the winter before starting a new nest, per the Guardian. It's believed other nests exist in the US. The state department of agriculture plans to continue monitoring hundreds of traps while searching for nests over the next three years. Efforts are also underway to track murder hornets across the border in British Columbia, Canada. Five have been found there within the last year, including two located roughly three miles apart this month, reports the Vancouver Sun. (Read more murder hornets stories.)