WSDA staff destroys first Asian giant hornet nest of 2021

BLAINE, Wash. — Washington State Department of Agriculture staff destroyed the first Asian giant hornet nest of the year on Wednesday.

The nest was found in the base of a dead alder tree in a rural area east of Blaine that’s about a quarter mile from the Canadian border.

The nest was located about two miles from another Asian giant hornet nest that WSDA employees destroyed last October, and about a quarter mile from where a neighbor reported a sighting of an Asian giant hornet on Aug. 11.

Staff began their work to destroy the nest by vacuuming 113 worker hornets from it. Once removed, the team began taking off bark and decayed wood near the base of the alder tree at the entrance to the nest.

“Removing the wood revealed that the hornets had excavated the interior of the tree to make room for the nest, which consisted of nine layers of comb,” a WSDA news release said.

The portion of the tree with the nest was cut and taken to the Washington State University Extension in Bellingham to be analyzed.

In addition to the worker hornets vacuumed from the tree, WSDA staff caught 67 more hornets in the area with nets as the nest was being destroyed. The nest itself had nearly 1,500 hornets inside that were in various stages of development.

“While we are glad to have found and eradicated this nest so early in the season, this detection proves how important public reporting continues to be,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist said. “We expect there are more nests out there and, like this one, we hope to find them before they can produce new queens. Your report may be the one that leads us to a nest.”

WSDA’s work to trap Asian giant hornets will continue through the end of November. People who would like to set their own traps can find instructions on WSDA’s website. Those who think they may have seen an Asian giant hornet should take a picture if possible and visit agr.wa.gov/hornets to report the sighting.

First Asian giant hornet nest of 2021