By Grace McCarthy
The Northern Light 

DNA tests show 2020 and 2021 east Blaine hornet nests were related


Last updated 1/20/2022 at 10:55am

Courtesy of the Wash. Dept. of Agriculture

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has confirmed all of the Asian giant hornet nests found in 2021 were connected to nest 'zero,' the first nest found and eradicated in east Blaine. Scientists believe the hornets likely mated and left nest zero before it was destroyed in October 2020.

State entomologists eradicated three of the invasive hornet nests in August and September of 2021, less than one mile from where the first nest was discovered. After the eradication of the nests on August 9, September 8 and September 23, scientists conducted DNA sequencing on the hornets.

"It's the best outcome that we could have had from the DNA testing," WSDA spokesperson Karla Salp said. But, she warned, this doesn't mean there aren't other hornets in Washington that are genetically unrelated that the agency doesn't know about.

There were 14 confirmed detections in 2021: Six reported by the public, four caught in WSDA traps and six that scientists caught, according to the WSDA.

Through DNA testing, scientists also discovered the U.S. hornets and the nest eradicated on Vancouver Island in fall 2019 were not genetically connected and likely from separate introductions, Salp said. Salp said the agency believes the hornet found in Snohomish County in June 2021 is from a third introduction.

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