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New documentary details hunt for the Asian giant hornet


The Washington State Department of Agriculture project to find and trap the Asian giant hornet is now the subject of a new documentary — Attack of the Murder Hornets — available to stream on Discovery+ beginning this Saturday.

Last fall, a production crew spent six weeks in Washington filming beekeepers, researchers, and WSDA staff for the documentary. By chance, filming began the day before WSDA entomologist Chris Looney caught the first live Asian giant hornet in the U.S., with the crew capturing footage throughout the project, including when WSDA found and eradicated an Asian giant hornet nest.

In addition to documenting key developments in the quest to find an Asian giant hornet nest, the film also shows the extensive collaboration between government agencies and the public, including the widespread trapping work by members of the Mt. Baker Beekeeper Association and other citizen scientists around the state.

“This film is an opportunity to educate people in an entertaining way about the work that is being done to prevent Asian giant hornets from establishing in the Pacific Northwest,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist, said. “Viewers will see some great shots of these hornets and the film does a good job showing how important the partnership between government agencies and the public has been to this effort.”

When the story first broke about the Asian giant hornet being found in Washington, social media took a hold of the story and made it sound like the next apocalyptic event. However, since then we found out the murder hornets were actually more detrimental to bees than to humans.

“When it comes to preventing and stopping invasive species, we all have a role to play and this film demonstrates what can be accomplished through collaboration,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “We are excited to see how the film will increase awareness of invasive species with such a large audience.”

The 90-minute production, “Attack of the murder hornets,” becomes available to stream February 20 via Discovery+, which is a subscription-based channel.

The film begins airing as WSDA’s Pest Program continues to evaluate results from last year’s giant hornet project and plans for the 2021 survey season, which will begin this summer. Visit the WSDA website to stay informed about WSDA’s efforts to detect and eradicate Asian giant hornets.

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