BELTSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — Researchers in Maryland now have five Asian giant hornets — commonly known as “murder hornets” — at their lab so they can be studied.

The hornets, including two pupae, one worker, one male and one queen, were caught in the first nest found in the U.S. in Washington state along the Canadian border, flash frozen and then sent to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Service lab and the Smithsonian.

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They will be preserved to compare to other Asian giant hornets and also to learn more about where in Asia the hornets may have come from.

Murder hornets are lethal to other bees and have been known to kill humans, though those instances are incredibly rare, University of Maryland Entomologist Dr. Michael Raupp told WJZ in May. The hornets are usually between 1.5 to 2 inches long, have large yellow-orange heads with prominent eyes, and a black and yellow striped abdomen.

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Following the species’ discovery in the U.S. earlier this year, state officials said it’s “highly unlikely” the murder hornets are in Maryland. By natural spread, Raupp said they are at least years, if not decades away from reaching Maryland.

CBS Baltimore Staff