'Murder Hornets' are the last thing we need right now

Joanna Estrada
May 6, 2020

Invasive Asian giant hornets have been found in the US.

Videos of massive so-called "murder hornets" with venomous stingers that have migrated from Asia have been making the rounds on social media, showing the insect killing its often larger prey with impunity.

Washington state agricultural officials are asking beekeepers and residents to report any sightings of the giant hornets, however they are warning people not to get too close. Washington State entomologist Chris Looney has stated they are most notorious for attacking honey bees.

It is not immediately clear how the hornet made it to the United States, but CNN reported they sometimes travel on worldwide cargo, and it is believed they became active last month after initial sightings because their hibernation is coming to a close. It has been online since at least 2012 and was reportedly taken by Masato Ono, a researcher from Tamagawa University who has published several studies on bees, wasps, and hornets. "I wouldn't expect a big impact in terms of human health aside from how it'll affect our food supply", said Howard Russell, entomologist at MSU.

In 2013, between July and October, the insects killed 41 people and injured 1,600 in Shaanxi province during a particularly bad hornet season, the BBC reported.

But Shockley says these isolated reports don't add up to a full-scale invasion that could endanger US crops anytime soon.

Vespa mandarinia aka Asian giant hornet
Vespa mandarinia aka Asian giant hornet. René Limoges Insectarium de Montréal

In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, dead Asian giant hornets sit on a researcher's field notebook in Blaine, Wash. Hornets are most destructive in the late summer and early fall.

As you can probably guess, the sting is said to be by far more potent, and more painful than the venom from a regular honey bee.

Farmers depend on honey bees to pollinate many important northwest crops such as apples, blueberries and cherries.

An invasive species can dramatically change growing conditions, Murray said, adding that now is the time to deal with the predators. If the hornets are not handled soon, and the hornets spread throughout the United States, they will become impossible to eradicate. Some people in Asian countries eat the meaty hornets, and their juice is sometimes used as a performance-enhancing supplement.

The Murder Hornet is the hottest new star of the 2020 apocalypse, and if you're wondering what it's like to be stung by one of these entymological terrors, YouTube star Coyote Peterson has got you covered.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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