The Washington state “murder hornet” nest that was destroyed last month contained more than 500 insects at various growth states and nearly 200 queens capable of starting their own colonies, Fox News reported.
Sven-Erik Spichiger, managing entomologist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, said during a press conference call with reporters earlier this week that the nest was destroyed “in the nick of time.”
“It really seems like we got there just in the nick of time as our original vacuum extraction seemed to only give us workers,” he said. “We only got queens four days later after we cracked it open, and so if any queens had already left the nest, it was just a few.”
At the time the nest was destroyed, state officials described it as about the size of a basketball.
“Once the nest was opened up, it was found to have 190 total larvae that developed from eggs, and 108 pupae, the next stage after larvae. They were nearly all queens,” Fox reported. “Officials also found 112 workers, which included 85 that had been previously vacuumed out of the nest.”
The workers that had been vacuumed out of the nest previously had survived.
Spichiger also provided a grim assessment of the current situation concerning the hornets, suggesting there could be more nests unknown to scientists.
“We know from the literature that a small percentage of these will go on to form colonies next year, should they have been given the chance to escape,” Spichiger said at this press conference.
In a blog post earlier this year, Washington’s agriculture department explained how Asian giant hornets operate.
“Asian giant hornet attacks and destroys honeybee hives,” officials wrote. “A few hornets can destroy a hive in a matter of hours. The hornets enter a ‘slaughter phase’ where they kill bees by decapitating them. They then defend the hive as their own, taking the brood to feed their own young.”
As The Daily Wire’s Joseph Curl previously reported, Japanese honeybees are able to defend themselves from the hornets.
“Unlike European honeybees, the Japanese bees, when attacked, form into ‘hot defensive bee balls’ around the intruder. They vibrate their bodies, which raises the temperature to 116 Fahrenheit. The Japanese bees can withstand 117 degrees — the Asian giant hornet, 115 degrees,” Curl wrote.
The murder hornets are capable of killing humans, though deaths are rare, according to a 2006 paper from Japan.
“In Japan, fatalities due to Vespa mandarinia (wasp) stings are estimated to range from 30 to 50 persons each year. Most victims appear to die from anaphylaxis or sudden cardiac arrest,” a group of doctors wrote, “while some of them die from to multiple organ failure including rhabdomyolysis, renal failure, liver dysfunction, respiratory failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy.”
While a brief panic over the hornets set in over the summer, a Washington, D.C. bee expert told the DCist that people need to “chill the hell out” over the insects.
“There is no more a murder hornet than there is a killer bee,” said Toni Burnahm, president of the D.C. Bee Keepers Alliance. “They’re both stupid names.”
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