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Section of tree containing Asian giant hornet nest taken to lab and cracked opened

Most of the occupants in the first Asian giant hornet (AGH) nest located in the US were removed during an eradication process on October 24th. Days later the section of the tree containing the nest was removed and taken to a research center where it was “cracked open like a nut” according to Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) spokesperson Karla Salp during a video briefing on October 29th.

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Salp said they moved the nest on October 28th by cutting the tree above and below the section believed to contain the nest. The section was then taken to the Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center and placed in a walk-in cooler.

WSDA entomologist peers into the section of a tree that contained an Asian giant hornet nest near Blaine, WA (October 28, 2020). Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Agriculture
WSDA entomologist peers into the section of a tree that contained an Asian giant hornet nest near Blaine, WA (October 28, 2020). Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Agriculture

The tree was opened the next day by using a wedge and hammer, Salp said.

Once the nest was exposed, work began to remove remaining AGHs. “Asian giant hornets that were still in the nest appeared, at least some of them were, alive,” Salp said. Both queens and workers were found in the nest. “We do not have an exact number to report at this time.”

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In addition to the adult AGHs found in the nest, they found a comb containing “quite a bit of larvae” according to Salp. “So we had a developing nest with both queens and workers as well as a new brood that was still developing within the nest.”

Combs found inside Asian giant hornet nest located in a tree near Blaine, WA (October 29, 2020). Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Agriculture

Over the next several days, a WSDA team will be examining and analyzing the nest contents including weighing and measuring the adults, measuring the different size cells of the comb and counting the number of queens located. Salp said, “That may give us some idea about whether some queens had already left the nest or not (to create new nests).” It will be several days before they will have “good numbers” about the population of the nest.

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This was the first Asian giant hornet nest found in the US according to WSDA and was located in east Blaine, Washington, less than 10 miles north of Ferndale.

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