Murder hornets—more formally known as Asian giant hornets—seem bent on putting down roots in North America. Wildlife officials in Washington state already have destroyed two nests this year and say they'll soon wipe out a newly discovered third one, reports the Guardian. The invasive species first turned up in the US in 2019, and entomologists in the Pacific Northwest have been trying to hunt down nests ever since. "The aim is to eradicate them completely," a spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Agriculture tells the New York Times. They won't claim victory until they have "two consecutive years of negative results" in regard to spotting the insect.
These hornets—the largest of the species—can wipe out an entire honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the smaller honeybees along the way and feeding the hive's larvae to their young ones. It's this so-called "slaughter phase" that gave rise to the nickname of "murder hornets," per CNN. They tend not to attack humans or pets unless provoked, but you most definitely don't want to get stung. Like "having hot tacks pushed into my flesh" is how one entomologist described the experience, per the Guardian. Nests aren't easy to find because they tend to be in heavily forested areas. (A male that turned up near Seattle has raised fears that the hornets are expanding their territory.)