First US murder hornet nest contained 500 live specimens

The murder hornet nest destroyed by scientists in Washington state last month contained about 500 live specimens in various stages of development — including nearly 200 queens, officials said Tuesday.

“We got there just in the nick of time,″ Sven-Erik Spichiger, an entomologist leading the fight to kill the state’s Asian giant hornets, said of the basketball-sized nest located in a tree near a house in Whatcom County.

Of the nearly 200 queens discovered — almost 76 were grown virgins, which have the potential to leave, mate and then start their own nests, Spichiger said.

The nest also contained 108 pupae, the stage after larvae — nearly of which were queens.

It’s unclear if some of the queens left the nest before it was destroyed, scientists said, but they believe other nests already exist.

The murder hornet — which can grow up to 2 inches long and can declinate entire hives of honeybees — can delivery painful, though rarely fatal, stings to humans.

In fact, hornets, wasps and bees typically found in the United States kill an average of 62 people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while murder hornets in Asian countries kill at most a few dozen people annually.

With Post wires

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