Giant 'Murder Hornets' Have Been Spotted In The US, And It's Worrying

Giant 'Murder Hornets' Have Been Spotted In The US, And It's Worrying

These hornets are said to pose a serious threat to the bee population.

Image Source: Nicolas Reusens/Getty Creative

As if 2020 wasn't bad enough, there's yet another problem that's made its way to America. It's terrifyingly called the "Murder hornets".  The New York Times reports that two of these insects, called Asian giant hornets, were spotted late last year in Washington state. The creatures got the nickname "murder hornets" because it's an aggressive group that attacks and can expose victims to doses of toxic venom equivalent to that of a venomous snake. In addition, it could topple honey bees, which is rather alarming for our ecosystem. It is said that murder hornets kill around 50 people in Japan every year. The giant hornet is unmistakable, said Susan Cobey, bee breeder with Washington State University’s Department of Entomology.



"They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face," she said. "It’s a shockingly large hornet," added Todd Murray, WSU Extension entomologist, and invasive species specialist. "It’s a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees." Though they were sighted in Washington last December, these insects are expected to become active again in April. The hornets are the world’s largest and can grow more than 2 inches long. While they aren't usually aggressive to humans unless their nests are disturbed, their stings are venomous enough to kill someone who gets stung multiple times.



Those who've had the misfortune of having been stung by these hornets have compared their pain to being speared by hot metal. Ouch! Being predators of honey bees means it's bad news for them. How? Well, a beekeeper from Maine was shocked to find several thousands of his honey with their heads ripped off, which is a signature move of the giant hornet. However, it wasn't confirmed if the killer was the hornet, but the Washington Department of Agriculture recovered a dead giant hornet from a property near Blaine the next month, The Bellingham Herald reported at the time.



"Asian giant hornet attacks and destroys honeybee hives. A few hornets can destroy a hive in a matter of hours. The hornets enter a "slaughter phase" where they kill bees by decapitating them," the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) said. "They then defend the hive as their own, taking the brood to feed their own young. They also attack other insects but are not known to destroy entire populations of those insects." As these hornets are typically native to the Asian region, it is still unclear how they made their way to the US. Scientists have issued a warning to people to steer clear of them.



"Don't try to take them out yourself if you see them," said entomologist Chris Looney from the WSDA in a blog post on the WSU website. "If you get into them, run away, then call us! It is really important for us to know of every sighting, if we're going to have any hope of eradication." To report an Asian Giant Hornet sighting, contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture Pest Program at 1-800-443-6684, [email protected], or online at agr.wa.gov/hornets. For questions about protecting honey bees from hornets, contact WSU Extension scientist Tim Lawrence at (360) 639-6061 or [email protected]


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