If 2020 has a mascot, it’s probably the murder hornet. In early May, with coronavirus already devastating our health and psyche, a terrifying New York Times piece revealed that scientists had detected Asian giant hornets in Washington state during the preceding months. No one had spotted the world’s largest species of hornet in the U.S. before. The venomous insects slaughter beehives within hours. They’ve even been to known to kill humans on occasion, according to the Times.
So when a group of Washington entomologists eradicated the first Asian giant hornet nest discovered in the U.S. this weekend, it felt like a much-needed win. Stories about the state Department of Agriculture’s feat in a Blaine forest have been everywhere. “This is certainly a morale boost,” managing entomologist Sven Spichiger said in the aftermath.
The team extracted nearly 100 hornets from a tree on private property. Though few among us could pretend to know the first thing about entomology, the average kitchen fly-swatter could appreciate the DIY-esque operation undertaken on Saturday morning. It involved plugging crevices around the nest with foam, wrapping the tree with cellophane, and using a vacuum to suction out those who didn’t respond to some “smart whacks” (a press release’s words) of a wooden board against the tree. All that was missing was, “I got this, honey!”
Spichiger noted that “this is only the start of our work to hopefully prevent the Asian giant hornet from gaining a foothold in the Pacific Northwest.” The public should continue reporting suspected sightings to the state, which is how it learned about this nest. Experts believe that there are more nests in Whatcom County.
Womp-womp. Still, the enduring significance of this latest murder hornet news may not be its effect on the insects taking up residence here. No, it may be the outfits.
The protective gear donned by the entomologists during their mission appears tailor-made for a 2020 Halloween costume. At first glance it conjures a hazmat suit—certainly fitting for our times. But it also seems eminently comfortable, like a onesie you'd spend the day in before a Zoom call.
KUOW reports that the scientists ordered them on Amazon, where intrepid Crosscut reporter Hannah Weinberger appears to have found the beekeeping get-up. At $170, just a bit out of your price range, perhaps. You could still pull off a replica with cozy fabrics though. And even if you're not leaving the house to celebrate this Halloween, no one's going to stop you from adding it to your quarantine-casual collection.