Home Biologist KUOW League of Murderous Creatures

KUOW League of Murderous Creatures


Move over, “murder hornets”. Many invasive species engage in biological killing, disrupting ecosystems and costing humans dearly.


When it comes to invasive species, so-called “murder hornets” (officially: northern giant hornets) can be the buzzword. But many species are just as “deadly” as the Asian giant hornets that mysteriously appeared in the northwest corner of Washington State in 2019 and quickly made global headlines.

“It’s a name the general public seems to love,” entomologist Sven Spichiger said at a 2020 news conference about Washington state’s efforts to eradicate the known insect from parts of Asia as the giant hornet or yak killer. “Looks like the media loves that too. I’m not a big fan of that,” he said.

Northern giant hornets can indeed take down an entire hive of bees in minutes. Their bites can also be dangerous for larger animals.

But nature involves a lot of “killing”: every creature that eats – or parasitizes, poisons or chokes – another is just as deadly. Species, like the northern giant hornet, that humans intentionally or accidentally transport away from their native range can quickly embark on expansive and costly kills.

Biologists have long focused on the threat of invasive species, though pest campaigns rarely make headlines.

Seeing the success of “murder hornets” in capturing the public imagination, we present six invasive species that pose a major threat to Washington State: KUOW’s League of Murder Creatures.


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This mass murderer claimed millions of victims across the continent.

The victims are bats and their killer is a fungus, known as Pd, short for unpronounceable but menacing Pseudogymnoascus destructans.

The fungus that causes deadly ‘white nose syndrome’ in bats may soon face a new enemy, thanks to scientists in Washington state and beyond.

Researchers have concocted a muddy concoction aimed at allowing an often deadly disease to survive, much like Covid-19 vaccines for humans.

“We call it ‘yogurt for bats,'” said bat biologist Leah Rensel.

READ: One way to fight a deadly pandemic: ‘yogurt for bats’

Hornet Murder Mystery

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Scientists in Washington and across the Pacific Ocean are working together to try to outsmart this deadly creature, the largest and most notorious species of its kind in the world.

They hope they can use the species’ own chemical warning signals to lure it to its doom before it takes a foothold in Washington state.

This murderous creature will be unveiled on November 7.

Mystery Newtralizer

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Some researchers call it the worst infectious disease known to science. He wiped out dozens of defenseless species from the face of the earth.

Now a newly discovered relative of the disease has biologists worried about a new round of species deaths, with the Pacific Northwest particularly at risk.

This murderous creature will be unveiled on November 14.

4) Coming in November…

English Ivy Mystery (2)

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Meandering across the ground, this murderous creature extinguished life on millions of acres.

Oregon banned the sale of this species ten years ago, but in Washington you can walk into the big box stores and buy it, no questions asked.

A group in Edmonds, Washington, took the matter into their own hands. They discovered that fighting a common enemy can bring people together.

This murderous creature will be unveiled on November 21.

5) Coming in November…

Miscellaneous Mystery 1

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Though small, this murderous creature is voracious, adaptable, and prolific: a recipe for world domination.

It exploded onto the Puget Sound scene in 2021 and has since made its way to Alaska.

This murderous creature will be unveiled on November 21.

Miscellaneous Mystery 2

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Fluffy, cute and videogenic, this killer creature is adored on the internet and in real life.

It’s also a mass murderer on an almost incomprehensible scale: killing an estimated two billion birds, 12 billion small mammals, and 650 million reptiles and amphibians a year in the United States.

This murderous creature will be unveiled on November 21.