SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Agricultural officials in Washington state said Friday they are trying to find and destroy a nest of Asian giant hornets believed to be near a small town amid concerns the hornets could kill honey bees crucial for pollinating raspberry and blueberry crops.
Evidence of six of the hornets, sometimes called murder hornets, were found over the last week near the town of Blaine in northeastern Whatcom County, the Washington state Department of Agriculture told reporters.
The number of hornets found, nearly doubling the previous number discovered in Washington, would indicate a nest has been established in the area, the agency said. One of the hornets was trapped alive, a first for the agency, spokeswoman Karla Salp said.
“We believe we are dealing with a nest,″ said Sven-Erik Spichiger, a department entomologist. “We hope to locate the nest in a couple of weeks and eradicate it.”
The Asian giant hornet, the world’s largest at 2 inches (5 centimeters), can decimate entire hives of honeybees and deliver painful stings to humans. Farmers in the northwestern U.S. depend on those honey bees to pollinate many crops.