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A braver man than me holds a speciment of the Asian giant hornet. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

How it works: The giant hornets, which are native to east Asia, grow as long as two inches and use spiked mandibles to decapitate honeybees.

  • They have also been known to attack animals and human beings using a stinger long enough to puncture a beekeeper's protective suit and venom that the New York Times described as "hot metal driving into their skin."
  • In Japan they're known to kill people occasionally, though in fairness to the murder hornets, the insects are also considered a tasty delicacy themselves in some parts of the country.

Background: Last year, beekeepers in Washington began reporting sightings of the hornet, prompting scientists to begin tracking the insects.

  • On Wednesday, entomologists at the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) captured two live giant hornets that had been caught in a trap. They attached radio trackers to the insects, one of which led them back to a nest in a tree in the town of Blaine the following day.

What's next: The WSDA had planned to eliminate the nest on Friday, but had to postpone the eradication until Saturday because of inclement weather.

  • Far be it from me to tell the WSDA how to do their jobs, but maybe it's worth braving a little rain to wipe out a nest of invasive murdering insects.

The bottom line: Somehow this didn't come up in Thursday's presidential debate, but I think we can all agree on a blanket ban for all invasive species with "murder" in their names.

Go deeper

In photos: Washington state crews destroy first murder hornets nest in U.S.

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, illuminated by red lamps, vacuum a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree in Blaine, Washington, on Saturday. Photo: Elaine Thompson/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Heavily protected crews on Saturday dismantled the first Asian giant hornet nest found in the U.S., the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) confirmed in a statement declaring: "Got 'em."

The big picture: The invasive species commonly referred to as the "murder hornet," typically doesn't harm humans unless provoked, though it has been known to kill people in Japan. The insect poses a major threat to local honeybee populations. But the WSDA said in a statement that the nest removal "appears to have been successful."

The SAT is going digital

A practice SAT. Photo: Alex Garcia/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The College Board announced Tuesday that the SAT will be delivered digitally in the U.S. in 2024.

Why it matters: The College Board said it's seeking to make the SAT "more relevant," as some colleges start to ditch the college admissions exam altogether.

2 hours ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.