Over the last few days, the internet has been abuzz about the Asian Giant Hornet that was caught in Washington state. This is the first male hornet they have been able to catch and it could lead to more than just a better understanding of the species; it could lead to its eradication here in the United States.
Ever since the first murder hornet was spotted here in the States, entomologists have been working feverishly to make sure the hornet does not set down roots here. Sven-Erik Spichiger, the Managing Entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, stated, “Quite a bit has happened. First, we had an initial planning with our AFS counterparts and also our counterparts in Canada who are having detections of their own. We formulated one or two different plans and put one or two of them into action.”
Local beekeeper Ted McFall is one of the unlucky beekeepers to have had his hives attacked by the massive insect. He stated, “Every time I go and check my hives, I kind of have a bad feeling when I start thinking about the Asian giant hornets that are somewhat establishing nests in the woods around me because I think to myself, ‘Which one of these colonies is going to get it? Next time I come out here, am I going to show up and there’s going to be bee heads everywhere and just bee carnage everywhere?’ It’s a very unsettling feeling.”
Spichiger stated that the local agriculture department has been using McFall’s location as a starting point to track and eradicate the hornet. He stated, “We have an excellent public survey going on with over 1,000 traps established by just members of the general public. This is very heartwarming to me because it means everyone is taking it very seriously and going above and beyond to help us look for new detections of this invasive pest.”
This threat is also about more than just keeping honey bees safe, as at least one report has surfaced of a woman being stung by one of these hornets, describing it as “hot tacks driven into her flesh.” McFall stated, “Beekeepers have all types of bee equipment and protection against bees but this is totally useless against the Asian giant hornet. The Asian giant hornet can poke his stinger right through here. Even if I wore two of them.”
The traps are now set, and they seem to be working. Experts believe if they can tag a hornet, it will lead them back to the nest, where they can completely eradicate the new arrivals before a true outbreak occurs. We will continue to keep our eyes on this story and update as researchers make more progress.