As life continues to grow into an endless series of Black Mirror episodes, each one of 2020’s dreadful storylines evolves into something stranger. In the ol’ “murder hornet” file, for example, we have a new update: a team of entomologists has eradicated one of the deadly bugs’ nests in Washington State. And, of course, they did it in a creepy way, involving hazmat-esque suits pulled straight from a dystopian-biotech narrative.
The entomologists, from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), recently announced the eradication of the nest. In a press release, which refers to the murder hornets by their real name—Asian giant hornets or Vespa mandarinia—the WSDA says that the eradication took place on October 24. The team discovered the nest, located in Blaine, Washington, only two days earlier.
“The eradication went very smoothly, even though our original plan [did not work] due to the fact that the nest was in a tree, rather than the ground,” managing entomologist Sven Spichiger said in the WSDA release. As it turns out, murder hornets, native to Asia as their real name indicates, almost exclusively inhabit subterranean nests.
In regards to the actual eradication process, it was indeed something out of Black Mirror. As the video up top shows, the removal involved a team of entomologists, all wearing the spooky beekeeper suits. The entomologists captured the hornets by banging the nest’s tree, and sucking up the bugs with a vacuum. The entomologists also pumped CO2 into the nest to kill or anesthetize any remaining hornets.
In all, the eradication crew was able to remove 98 worker hornets from the nest. And even though this is an important step officials must take to stop murder hornet spread, it’s only one step.
Even being vacuumed out of bed on Saturday didn't stop these tough ladies. Post-eradication counting revealed that all of the 85 #AsianGiantHornets were still alive later in the day on Saturday.— Washington State Department of Agriculture (@WSDAgov) October 26, 2020
No, you can't have one. The specimens are going to research. 😁 pic.twitter.com/nm3QyatcAp
“While this is certainly a morale boost, this is only the start of our work to hopefully prevent the Asian giant hornet from gaining a foothold in the Pacific Northwest,” Spichiger added. Indeed, some scientists have modeled the spread of the hornets, which only arrived in the U.S. in December of 2019, and say mitigation measures are critical. If left unchecked, the hornets could spread up and down the continent, threatening local honeybee populations. And that’s a problem, because we know what kind of Black Mirror episode we’re in for if the honeybees die.
Feature image: WSDA