Scientists in Washington state capture 'murder hornet' ahead of mating season

For the first time, entomologists in Washington state have trapped one of the so-called "murder hornets."
For the first time, entomologists in Washington state have trapped one of the so-called "murder hornets."

The hornets, which are native to Asia, were first spotted in Washington late last year.

The adult hornets earned the name "murder hornets" because they decapitate native honey bees, which are critical to the overall food chain and agriculture.

WATCH: Asian murder hornet from Japan found in US for first time
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Asian giant hornets are primarily a threat to honeybees, but may sting humans



Though they generally aren't a danger to humans, the hornet's sting can be deadly, and they can grow to about 2 inches long -- fives times the size of a honey bee.

The one that was trapped is not quite that big, but it may hold a clue to the location of a nest, which entomologists are hoping to find and destroy.

"If we can actually catch them now, at this early point in their development, we can eradicate these organisms so that they do not become established in other states," one officials said.

The Department of Agriculture said it wants to contain the invading species before mid-September, when the queens begin to mate to produce a new crop of worker hornets, the statement said.
So far, there have been at least six confirmed sightings of the dangerous hornet in the state, but the previous five were all found in the wild, whereas the recent find was the first captured in a trap, officials said Friday.

WATCH: 'Murder hornet' lands on the west coast, potentially threatening Bay Area bees
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The world's largest hornet, hailing from Asia, dubbed the "murder hornet" for it's massive 2-inch size and a sting that kills around 50 people a year in Japan, is being spotted in Washington State, and could have an impact on Bay Area bees.



The Asian giant hornet is more likely to be seen in August and September, officials said.

"This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work," Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the Department of Agriculture, said in a press release. "But it also means we have work to do."

ABC News contributed to this report.

The Asian giant hornet is more likely to be seen in August and September, officials said.

"This is encouraging because it means we know that the traps work," Sven Spichiger, managing entomologist for the Department of Agriculture, said in a press release. "But it also means we have work to do."

ABC News contributed to this report.
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