PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Researchers made a second attempt to track a live Asian giant hornet this month in Northwest Washington. The most recent effort drew a crowd of excited neighbors, but ended with the hornet flying out of range of trackers.
The Asian giant hornet is an invasive species popularly referred to as a “murder hornet,” because of its powerful sting and potential to decimate honeybee populations. The species isn’t usually interested in humans or animals, but may sting if they or their nests are disturbed or threatened. According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), the hornets nest on the ground and are typically dormant through winter.
The first tracking attempt came on September 30 in Blaine, Washington, after what WSDA officials believe is the first live capture of one of the hornets in the United States. Researchers tried to attach a tracking tag to the hornet, but in the end it was unable to fly, probably because a bit of glue got on its wings, according to authorities.
Another Blaine resident captured a live Asian giant hornet on October 5 and gave it to WSDA to help track it back to the nest. Researchers used dental floss to tie a radio tag to the insect, then placed it in an apple tree on October 7.
The team, along with eager neighbors who had come to observe and track the hornet using a cell phone app, tracked the hornet from tree to tree for about an hour. However, they lost the signal when the hornet flew into the forest.
WSDA has now ordered radio transponders with a longer range and better battery life to try to improve future tracking attempts.
There have been 18 confirmed Asian giant hornet sightings in Washington since September 2019. Officials said during a press conference Monday that they think there are at least two, possibly three, active nests in Northwest Washington.