Scientists in Washington state have discovered the first ever “murder hornet” nest in the United States after months of searching.
Entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture uncovered the deadly Asian giant hornets’ home on a property in Blaine, next to the Canadian border.
The nest containing the world’s largest hornet species will be destroyed on Sunday to protect local honeybees.
First discovered in the state in 2019, the invasive species is capable of eradicating an entire bee hive in just a few hours.
Scientists have been pursuing the species since the first insect was spotted in December of last year.
"The successful detection of a nest comes after a WSDA trapper collected two live Asian giant hornets on October 21 (Wednesday), caught in a new type of trap the agency had placed in the area," a statement from the WSDA said.
"Two more hornets, also living, were found in another trap the morning of October 22 when WSDA staff arrived in the area to tag the previously trapped hornets with radio trackers and follow one back to its nest," it added.
If the species becomes established in the area they could have a devastating impact on the local environment, the agency warned.
There is a strong chance that other nests exist and "stopping this cold is very crucial," said Sven Spichiger, an WSDA entomologist.
It is unclear how the hornets made it to US shores, but there is now a risk that they could spread across the country.
The hornets have orange and black markings and are nearly five centimetres in length. They are known for decimating honeybee colonies by literally biting the insects heads off.
Although they do not usually attack humans, Japan sees up to 50 people die each year from their excruciating and venomous sting.