'Murder hornet' nest vacuumed out of tree in Washington

The hornets can sting repeatedly with venom that is stronger than a honeybee's.
The hornets can sting repeatedly with venom that is stronger than a honeybee's.PHOTO: AFP
A radio tracking device fitted by entomologists is seen on one of three Asian giant hornets before they led researchers to a colony in a tree.
A radio tracking device fitted by entomologists is seen on one of three Asian giant hornets before they led researchers to a colony in a tree.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A team of entomologists in full-body protective gear vacuumed Asian giant hornets out of a tree in Washington state on Saturday (Oct 24), eradicating the first nest of the so-called murder hornets found in the United States.

The state's agricultural department said it had spent weeks searching for and trapping the hornets, which attack honeybee hives and could pose a threat to humans, because they can sting repeatedly with venom that is stronger than a honeybee's.

The state's entomologists succeeded by attaching radio trackers to three hornets they had trapped earlier in the week, one of which they followed to the nest, located in a tree near Blaine, Washington, on Thursday.

They returned on Saturday to make the extraction.

"Got 'em. Vacuumed out several #AsianGiantHornets from a tree cavity near Blaine this morning," the agriculture department said on Twitter, adding that more details would be provided at a news conference on Monday.

The stinging hornet, the world's largest, can grow as large as 6.4cm in length and is native to South-east Asia, China and Taiwan. It was first discovered in the US in December by a homeowner in Blaine.

Aside from the danger to humans, the hornet presents a threat to agriculture and the apiary industry, officials have said, because it is a known predator of honeybees, with a few of the hornets capable of wiping out an entire hive in hours.