As the US grapples with the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, a new threat is emerging as Asian giant hornets – known as “murder hornets” due to their lethal sting to humans – are gaining a foothold in the country.
After they were first found in Washington State in May this year, the 2-inch (5cm)-long hornets have now been trapped for the first time – giving officials an indication – firstly that their traps work, and secondly of where nests could be situated.
Now authorities in Washington State have until mid-September to try and eradicate the invasive species before the breeding season begins.
Multiple stings are deadly to humans and in Asia the hornets are estimated to kill 50 people a year.
Honey bee populations in the US have declined by 60 per cent since the mid 20th century, largely due to habitat loss and use of pesticides, according to GreenpeaceUSA.
It is not known how the species arrived in North America, but they were first documented late last year, and since then there have been four more sightings – all of the insects in the wild.