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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."

Australia opposes UN report warning Great Barrier Reef is "in danger"

A green sea turtle swimming among the corals at Lady Elliot island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Great Barrier Reef should be included in a list of World Heritage Sites that are "in danger" from climate change, a United Nations committee said in a report Tuesday.

Yes, but: Australia's government said it will "strongly oppose" the recommendation by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema: Abolishing filibuster would weaken "democracy's guardrails"

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema at the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) defended her opposition to abolishing the 60-vote legislative filibuster in a Washington Post op-ed published Monday night, saying to do so would weaken "democracy's guardrails."

Why it matters: There have been growing calls from Democrats, particularly progressives, to overhaul the rules as the Senate prepares to vote Tuesday on Democrats' massive voting rights package. But Sinema writes in her op-ed that if this were to happen "we will lose much more than we gain."