Scientists think other nests already exist and say it’s impossible to know if any queens escaped before the first nest was destroyed.

Asian giant hornets, an invasive pest not native to the US, are the world’s largest hornet at 2in (5 cm) long, and a predator of other insects, including the honeybees that pollinate many of the crops in Washington’s multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry.

Despite their nickname and the hype that has stirred fears in an already bleak year, the hornets kill at most a few dozen people a year in Asian countries, and experts say it’s probably far fewer. By comparison, hornets, wasps and bees typically found in the US kill an average of 62 people a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.