Giant 'Murder Hornets' Invading Washington State, Pose Numerous Threats To US

Joanna Estrada
May 5, 2020

The New York Times reported Saturday that the insects, actually called Asian giant hornets, could establish themselves in the United States after two were spotted late past year in Washington state. "Multiple stings can kill humans, even if they are not allergic".

The hornet's stinger can pierce through normal beekeepers' suits, according to Washington State University.

Over a three-month period in 2013, Asian giant hornets killed 42 people and injured 1,675 more in China, while Japan reports that the deadly hornets kill 50 people a year.

Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, says the hornets must be controlled within a short time frame.

A species of "murder hornets" from Asia has arrived in the United States, and researchers are looking for ways to eradicate them before their population grows. However, it is a unsafe risk to a honeybee hive.

"Our honeybees, the predator has never been there before, so they have no defense", Ruthie Danielsen, a beekeeper in Washington, told the Times.

An example of a bottle trap that can be used to trap murder hornets
An example of a bottle trap that can be used to trap murder hornets

While it's now unclear how these Asian giant hornets came to North America, the area they've been spotted in makes sense. This time, however, it isn't a virus - but much rather a species of Asian hornet that's been dubbed "murder hornets".

Asian giant hornets are the largest hornet species in the world. After removing the head of the bee, the giant hornet returns the thorax to its nest to feed its young. Now we have giant hornets with freakish eyes and a venomous sting to add to this year's list of worries. With the threat from giant hornets, "beekeepers may be reluctant to bring their hives here", said Island County Extension scientist Tim Lawrence.

They're sometimes transported in global cargo - in some cases deliberately, said Seth Truscott with WSU's college of agricultural, human and natural resource sciences. Like a marauding army, they attack honey bee hives, killing adult bees and devouring larvae and pupae, WSU said.

The giant Asian insect, with a sting that could be fatal to some humans, is just now starting to emerge from winter hibernation. Some people in Asian countries eat the meaty hornets, and their juice is sometimes used as a performance-enhancing supplement. The specialists urge people not to approach the hornets and not try to destroy them yourself.

So, uh, yeah, if you see one of these hornets in person, run away and call a local department of agriculture.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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