If 2020 hasn’t already been a year rife with questioning your place in the world, fear not. In the final moments before the most contentious election in modern history, there's more bad news for the United States: the murder hornets are back. For those of us who have only recently gotten over a long fear of bumble bees, it's not particularly exciting to learn that there was a discovery of a nest of Asian giant hornets by the Washington State Department of Agriculture on Thursday.
You may be thinking: didn't we already do the murder hornet thing in 2020? Well, the last we heard about murder hornets was in early May when entomologists were tracking them in order to prevent them from establishing colonies, which typically live underground. If you’ve forgotten about them since then, you’re probably not alone. We’ve had quite a year, what with a global pandemic, aliens, nationwide uprisings, environmental disasters on the West and Gulf coasts, a chaotic election, essentially what feels like the end of the world.
After one of these two-inch-long predatory insects was found last November in Washington — along with thousands of dead bees with their heads torn off — scientists started tracking every sighting of the murder hornets in hopes of containing the species.
But in a year full of seemingly never-ending disasters, it was only a matter of time before the murder hornets took over — and in a scary way. Entomologists found an entire nest this week, with dozens of them coming and going from the tree they were housed in, and it’s the first ever known nest in the U.S. Scientists aren’t entirely sure how the hornets got here, but it’s possible they were brought on international cargo, just like invasive species of apocalypse past. For instance, look no further than the invasive Asian carp posing an environmental threat to the entire Great Lakes region.
Murder hornets are the world’s largest species of hornet, and while they are known to kill up to 50 people a year in Japan, their usual victims are honey bees, which are already endangered. So, not only are these murderous hornets slaughtering endangered bees, they’re doing so to the detriment of our entire ecosystem. Ah, great. Just what we needed, right?
And that’s exactly what scientists have worried about, as they warned earlier this year that the spread of the invasive species across the U.S. could destroy the country’s bee population at the expense of the food industry. What’s worse: once these bad boys invade, they’re nearly impossible to get rid of.
For now, the WSDA is trying to get a jump on containing this newly discovered nest, and has set up a network of traps around the state, CNN reports. But I’m willing to bet we’re probably doomed, so I’m just going to lean in. Come and get me, murder hornets.