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Homicide hornets get a brand new title, however need to wipe them out in Washington state stays the identical

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The northern giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) is the world’s largest species of hornet. (WSDA Photo)

If you had “murder” in your name you’d be hoping for a change, too.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it would follow new guidance on the naming of the invasive pest it’s been battling the last couple years. Vespa mandarinia, often referred to as the “Asian giant hornet” or “murder hornet,” is now the “northern giant hornet” according to the Entomological Society of America (ESA).

The murder moniker stuck because the world’s largest hornet is a predator of honey bees and other insects, and a small group can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.

The new official common names are intended to comply with ESA’s insect common names guidelines, which include avoiding naming insects using geographic regions, according to a WSDA news release.

The proposal to establish an ESA common name came from Dr. Chris Looney, who has been actively involved in WSDA’s hornet research and efforts to eradicate the insects from Washington state. It’s been an ongoing affair the last couple years in locations near Blaine, Wash., north of Seattle and close to the Canadian border.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, uses a tracking receiver alongside Nathan Chambers to see how WSDA tracks hornets. (WSDA Photo)

And tech has played a role, with tiny tracking devices being affixed to some hornets so they could be followed back to nests. WSDA held a recent field training day to cross-train staff on various aspects of the agency’s hornet response, including how to build, bait, and check hornet traps, trying on hornet protective suits, learning about and testing radio hornet tracking equipment, and simulating a nest extraction.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took part in the exercise, using a tracking receiver to follow beeps to a radio tag about the size of a Tic Tac and seeing the hornet suits that the hunters wear.

WSDA also announced that it hopes to deploy a drone with a receiver in the fight this year, making it easier to track hornets over rough terrain and thick brush.

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