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First ‘murder hornet’ nest found in US removed

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(CNN) — The first nest of giant “murder hornets” ever discovered in the United States has been eliminated, two days after it was located in Washington state.

The Asian giant hornet nest was found on Thursday at 4 p.m. local time by entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in the cavity of a tree on a property near the town of Blaine.

“Actually, it was a little terrifying because the first thing we saw was their children’s playsets less than 20, 30 feet from the active nest,” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, an entomologist with the Washington Department of Agriculture. “So that’s when we knew we had to contact them.”

WSDA staff tracked down the nest through radio trackers which they had attached to several captured hornets. They saw dozens of the insects flying in and out of the tree.

An attempt to eradicate the nest took place on Saturday and “appears to have been successful,” the WSDA said in a short statement. “The WSDA Pest Program vacuumed numerous specimens out of the nest,” it added.

The owner of the property had given the department permission to remove the nest, WSDA said on Friday.

“We vacuumed up 85 and netted 13 as they were leaving the nest the day before, for a total of 98, and the queen was not captured,” Spichiger said.

Asian giant hornets, which are not native to the US, were first discovered in Washington state in December last year, leading the WSDA to set up a network of traps around the state with the help of citizen scientists. The first hornet was caught in the state in July.

A small group of these hornets, which are the world’s biggest, can kill a hive of honeybees “in a matter of hours,” according to the WSDA. They usually nest in the ground but can also be found in dead trees.

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