Officials with the Washington State Department of Agriculture captured scores of Asian giant hornets, sometimes known as "murder hornets," after a nest of the invasive species was discovered last week.
The insects are typically seen in China, Japan, Thailand, and other Asian countries. They were first spotted in the US last December.
The insects can destroy entire colonies of honeybees, and can even kill humans.
Officials with the Washington State Department of Agriculture on Saturday captured scores of Asian giant hornets, an invasive species sometimes known as "murder hornets," after a nest was discovered last week.
According to the Washington Invasive Species Council, the hornet is an "invasive species from Asia and a known predator of honeybees," which are critical to pollinate crops.
Authorities first found the nest on October 22, in Blaine, a town in northwest Washington, the department said in a release. After staff members caught and tagged three hornets, one lead them to the nest.
Photos published over the weekend show crew members in thick bodysuits and face shields to protect from the two-inch insects while they vacuumed the hornets out of a tree into long, clear canisters.
"While Asian giant hornets normally nest in the ground, they are occasionally found nesting in dead trees," the department said. "Dozens of the hornets were seen entering and exiting the tree while the WSDA team was present."
The hornets pose a threat with six-millimeter-long stingers, which can sting nearby animals or humans. The insects can also spit venom, according to the Associated Press.
The department said it had been "actively searching for Asian giant hornet nests since the first such hornets were caught earlier this year." The first Asian giant hornet was identified in Washington in December 2019 and the first hornet was trapped in July, according to the release.
The hornet is normally found in Asian countries including China, Japan, and Thailand, the AP reported. Washington state and British Columbia are the only places the hornets have been identified in North America.
Scientists told the AP the tree will be cut down, but officials still suspect more nests may be in the area and will keep searching. A news briefing is slated for Monday to update the public on the status of the nest.
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