EXPERTS in the US are preparing for the arrival of new murder hornet queens "snuggled in" for their Winter hibernation, despite killing 200 this year.
Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is taking down their Asian murder hornet traps after a buzzing nest of 500 hornets – including 200 queens – was vacuumed in Whatcom County back in October.
The giant wasps either die off or hibernate during the colder snap – and some had been "prison tagged" in the United States with radio trackers following their arrival here late last year to find and eradicate them.
WSDA spokeswoman Karla Salp told CNN."This time of year the workers and the drones that may have emerged from a nest would be dying and the new queens would be overwintering.
"This means the queens find a nice little hole in the ground and snuggle in for the winter."
The WSDA confirmed that this festive season would be spent preparing for the bugs' 2021 debut when the killer queens come out of hibernation mode and brave experts begin to exterminate them once more.
Entomologists at the department are now assessing the traps they're using and building upon its impressive citizen trapping program as they prepare for a spring resurgence.
They're called murder hornets for good reason: experts fear the insects may pose a serious threat to the honey bee population.
The WSDA said a small group of them can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours while experts at Washington State University found that small stings can also kill humans with a single excruciating sting.
A former Indiana police chief Larry Crenshaw, 59, died after he was stung over 40 times by hornets leaving him struggling to breathe as he hunted with a friend in October in Brookville.
"They were attacked by numerous hornets," Rush County Coroner Ron Jarman said. "Larry was stung over 40 times and shortly after began to have issues with shortness of breath and collapsed in the woods."
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The world's largest hornet is two inches and is a major threat to the ecosystem if they become established over several years.
In Japan, the hornet's native country, the insects kill around 50 people each year.
During the year, experts advised Americans to use caution near the insects and not attempt to remove or eradicate nests themselves.