Male Asian giant hornets captivated by the chemical signals of a ready-to-mate queen could one day find themselves stuck in a trap instead.
In a new study, scientists identified three chemicals in the sex pheromone of Asian giant hornet queens. When traps with those chemicals were placed near the hornets’ nests in China — part of their native range — the traps ensnared thousands of males but no other insects, researchers report March 14 in Current Biology.
The finding is a step toward designing pheromone traps, a common tool to monitor or control insect populations, for these hornets, says James Nieh, a behavioral ecologist at the University of California, San Diego.
Starting in 2019, nests housing Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) — nicknamed “murder hornets” for their habit of feasting on honeybees — have popped up in a few places in western North America (SN: 5/29/20). Studies hint that the insects could spread across eastern Washington, Oregon and British Columbia in Canada, and scientists have launched efforts to control the invasion (SN: 10/1/20). The Washington State Department of Agriculture even encourages state residents to help trap the hornets using plastic bottles, orange juice and rice cooking wine.