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Tagged with tracker, Asian giant hornet leads state to nest

August 20, 2021 GMT

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Washington state agriculture workers have discovered their first Asian giant hornet nest.

It was found Thursday morning north of Seattle near the Canadian border not far from where a resident saw a live Asian giant hornet on Aug. 11, The Bellingham Herald reported.

State agriculture staff then netted, tagged with a tracker and released three of hornets, according to a news release from the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

One slipped out of the tracking device, another hornet was never located and one eventually led the team to the nest, officials said.

The Washington agency, along with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service narrowed the search area by Tuesday but was unable to access the location until Thursday.

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Teams spotted the nest about 9:15 a.m. Thursday. State entomologists will develop plans to eradicate the nest, most likely next week, according to the officials.

Officials hope to destroy any nests by mid-September, before the colony would start creating new reproducing queens.

The Asian giant hornet, the world’s largest at 2 inches (5 centimeters), can decimate entire hives of honeybees and deliver a painful sting to humans. Farmers in the northwest depend on honeybees to pollinate many crops such as apples, blueberries and cherries.

The invasive insect was first documented in the state late last year and officials have said it’s not known how it arrived in North America. It normally lives in the forests and low mountains of eastern and southeast Asia.