Washington state scientists use dental floss to help lasso murder hornets
Tracking device led scientists to first nest found in US, and they plan to zap it Saturday
SPOKANE, Wash. (WKBT) — Washington state scientists used an unlikely weapon — dental floss — to attach radio trackers to a handful of Asian giant hornets to pinpoint the first nest of so-called murder hornets to be found in the United States.
Scientists in the Evergreen State plan to destroy the nest Saturday to protect native honeybees. Bad weather delayed plans to destroy the nest Friday.
State Agriculture Department workers found the nest of Asian giant hornets north of Seattle after trapping some of the insects this week and using dental floss to attach radio trackers to them.
“Entomologists were able to attach radio trackers to three hornets, the second of which led them to the discovery of the nest” Thursday, agriculture officials said.
The world’s largest hornets, measuring 2 inches long, can decimate entire hives of honeybees and deliver painful stings to people. Farmers in the northwestern U.S. depend on those honeybees to pollinate many crops, including raspberries and blueberries.
The invasive insect normally is found in China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries. Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia are the only places the hornets have been found on the continent.
Although the nickname of “murder hornets” is intimidating, the hornets kill just a few dozen people a year in Asian countries, while other bugs cause more deaths in the United States. For example, hornets, wasps and bees typically found in the United States kill an average of 62 people a year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The real threat is their devastating attacks on already at-risk honeybees, scientists say.
The main risks to honeybees include winter losses, Colony Collapse Disorder and chronic bee paralysis, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Chronic bee paralysis symptoms include abnormal trembling, an inability to fly and the development of shiny, hairless abdomens.
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