2nd “murder hornet” nest of year destroyed in U.S.; 3rd located

Officials say they’ve destroyed a second nest of Asian giant hornets — or so-called “murder hornets” — found in northwestern Washington state this year and are preparing to take down a third.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture said in a Facebook post  that a team eradicated the nest Saturday in northern Whatcom County, near the town of Blaine along the Canadian border.

It said a third nest this season has been located and that planning is underway to eradicate it.

The nests have been within a few miles of each other. The first nest this year was destroyed in August. The hornets were first detected in the U.S. in 2019 in Whatcom County.

When scientists destroyed the first nest discovered in the U.S., they found about 500 live specimens, including nearly 200 queens that had the potential to start their own nests. Last year, scientists in the U.S. and Canada announced new efforts to stop the spread of the species, which they call a “serious danger to our health and well-being.” 

Asian giant hornets are an invasive pest not native to the U.S. They are the world’s largest hornet at 2 inches long, and a predator of other insects, including honey bees that pollinate many of the crops in Washington’s agriculture industry.

The world’s largest hornet can sometimes be lethal to humans but is much more of a threat to honeybees that are relied on to pollinate crops. They attack hives, destroying them in mere hours and decapitating bees in what scientists call their “slaughter phase.” How they got here from Asia is unclear, although it is suspected they travel on cargo ships.

Sophie Lewis contributed to this report.