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Found ‘murder hornet’ nest had ability to produce 200 queens

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 11:38 AM CST
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BLAINE, Wash. (KIRO) - The first “murder hornet” nest that was found and destroyed in the U.S. had the ability to produce 200 queens, scientists say.

“It really seems like we got there just in the nick of time,” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, an entomologist with the Washington Department of Agriculture.

Researchers cut the Asian Giant Hornet’s nest out of tree and took the section back to cold storage. There, they pumped it full of carbon dioxide, which made it too cold for hornets to fly, as they opened the nest up.

They used chopsticks to pick through and found 76 queens alive inside.

“Everything we found (was) alive inside the nest, which would make sense had it likely emerged between the time we did the eradication and the time we did our examination,” Spichiger said.

The nest had the ability to produce about 200 queens. About 108 of them were still in their cells in the nest. The other 76, plus three found when they took down the tree, were put on ice to study.

If they had not found and eradicated the nest when they did, they’d be looking at the possibility of 200 more nests.

Researchers think there are at least three nests in the county, and they will keep trying to find them.

“There’s no way for us to ever be certain whether or not we got them all,” Spichiger said.

However, as it gets colder, it’s harder for the hornets to fly around.

“Should there be an active beehive attack, our chances are good of finding more. As people start going out hunting, they may stumble into one and let us know about it,” Spichiger said.

The hornets were first detected in the U.S. in December. It’s unknown how they got to the U.S. from Asia.

Scientists are worried about what they could do to the honeybee population. A few murder hornets can kill tens of thousand of honeybees in a hive in a few hours.

Copyright 2020 KIRO via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.