The Washington State Department of Agriculture generated worldwide attention when it successfully eradicated an Asian giant hornet nest in the northwest part of the state in the fall of 2020. But the so-called murder hornets returned in 2021, and three more nests had to be located and destroyed.
Now the agency has determined that the 2021 insects flew the 2020 nest before it was destroyed.
WSDA said in tweets on Wednesday that all three nests found last summer were started by queens that left the nest found near Blaine, Wash., in October 2020. The nests were not started by the queen that started the 2020 nest, WSDA said in another tweet.
Asian giant hornets are an invasive species not native to the U.S. They are the world’s largest species of hornet and the first-ever sightings occurred in the U.S. in December 2019 in Washington state. The hornets are known to attack and destroy honeybee hives and can kill an entire hive in a matter of hours.
WSDA has used tiny tracking technology to tag and follow the hornets back to nests, which have then been cut from a variety of tree trunks.