SPOKANE, Wash — Using a special vacuum, the Washington State Department of Agriculture successfully removed the nest filled with Asian giant hornets.
The insects are rapidly expanding their presence in the Pacific Northwest and scientists are learning more about them every day.
“We could potentially find another nest before the end of the year,” said Karla Salp with WSDA. “The more we find now, the fewer we will have next year.”
Nonstop research has been going into the invasive species since it was first discovered in Washington in December of last year.
Two queen hornets were found upon the most recent discovery. That’s important because capturing those can limit the spread of future nests.
In total, 98 worker hornets were vacuumed from the tree and 13 live hornets were contained with a net. It’s still too early to tell how many were captured now that the tree has been cut down.
Entomologists will analyze the hornets to see if any got away.
“We may have gotten there in the nick of time. There may already be queens out there that have mated and dispersed,” Salp said.
It could be a while before there’s a true grip on the spread, but the recent eradication is considered a win in their progress to accomplish that goal.
As cold weather continues to move in, that could also slow down the hornets. This decreases the chance of one appearing in Spokane.
“It’s not impossible but it’s less than likely. So far we still only have confirmed sightings in that one area of Whatcom County," Salp said.
Because it's an invasive species, the hornet could have detrimental effects on local honey bee populations.
The department of agriculture will continue its search to limit any harm to the environment.