Scientists have finally succeeded in attaching trackers to murder hornets

Back in October 2020, it was reported that the Washington State Department of Agriculture had attempted to glue a tracking device to the head of an Asian giant hornet, colloquially known as the "murder hornet." The goal was to let the invasive bug lead them back to its nest, in hopes that they could eradicate the beasts right at the source.

Unfortunately, it failed. Then they caught another one, and tried again, but that also failed.

Luckily, the third time's the charm. As the Bellingham Herald recently reported:

The state agriculture staff netted, tagged with a tracker and released three of hornets Aug. 11, to Tuesday, Aug. 17, according to a news release from the Washington State Department of Agriculture. One of the so-called "murder hornets" slipped out of the tracking device, another hornet was never located and one eventually led the team to the nest.

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.

The search began at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and the teams spotted the nest about 9:15 a.m.

If you're still struggling to wrap your head around the size of these things, just think of it this way: they're big enough that you can strap a tracker to their heads and they can still fly.

Anyway, that first Asian Giant Hornet nest was destroyed on August 26, 2021. According to a press release from the state agricultural department, it was quite a substantial nest:

WSDA staff began Wednesday's eradication by vacuuming 113 worker hornets from the nest. Once the worker hornets were removed, the team began removing bark and decayed wood near the base of an 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.

The portion of the tree with the nest was cut and transported to Washington State University Extension in Bellingham for further analysis. In addition to the worker hornets vacuumed from the tree, WSDA staff caught 67 additional hornets in the area with nets during the eradication. The nest itself had nearly 1,500 hornets in various stages of development.

Netted and tagged with a tracker this so-called 'murder hornet' led the state to its nest [Julie Shirley / Bellingham Herald]

State eradicates first Asian Giant Hornet nest of 2021, asks public to continue reporting [Washington State Department of Agriculture]

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