Checking the news in 2020 is a bit like reading the first few pages of a horror movie script every morning. A virus raged halfway around the world at the tail-end of winter, mummies tombs are being popped open, and now the murder hornets have escaped. Washington-based researchers reported they have lost track of a Giant Asian Hornet they were following, after its tracker stopped responding.
The hornet was one of several captured by researchers at Washington State Department of Agriculture, who were hoping to track the invasive and ornery bug back to its nest and destroy it. The largest known species of hornet in the world packs a painful sting, though humans deaths from attacks are rare. Scientists are more concerned about the Pacific Northwest’s honeybee population, which could be wiped out quickly by a large enough population of hornets and wreak havoc on the agricultural industry.
The hornet in question was the second to give researchers the slip. Their first attempt at tracking a hornet back to its hive ended after the glued-on tracker came loose. They tried again with dental floss on this most recent attempt, but the receiver went dead after the hornet flew into a thicket. They reported some progress from the failed attempt, however.
“We did get an initial direction of the flight," WSDA Managing Entomologist Sven Spichiger told The Independent. "[But] this one was a lot feistier".
The hornets were first spotted in the US in May, and researchers are hoping to find and destroy their nests before they can establish themselves on the continent.