Strange times. And to add to the current state of events is the arrival of a new ominous pest we must worry about, known by the fear-inducing nickname, the “murder hornet.”
In actuality, they are not new, just new to the United States.
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), more commonly known as the “murder hornet,” is the largest in the world. The murder hornet is native to temperate and tropical East Asia, South Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia, and parts of the Russian Far East.
Unfortunately, it has arrived in North America.
So far, the hornet has been spotted in Vancouver Island and Washington State. They stand out in a crowd, with a female Asian giant hornet growing as big as an inch and a half.
For comparison, North American honey bee comes in around a half-inch. It’s not the size that matters but their habits. Their mouth is so large that it almost appears cartoonish.
It can easily bite the head off of other insects and, in many cases, honeybees. Mostly they are solitary hunters. But come late summer, and in to fall, they work as a team to stage mass attacks on nests of other insects that live together in groups, like honeybees.
They decapitate the adults then go on to eat the larvae and pupae. A few of these hornets can destroy a healthy hive in a short time.
If someone disturbs their nest, which is located in the ground, the group will get upset and attack. Since the creature is much larger than a typical wasp or hornet, coming in at 2-inches long they have much more venom.
So, when they do sting, they can leave a lot of poison in your body, and that could kill you.
Coyote Peterson, “the King of Sting,” YouTube personality of the Brave Wilderness channel, demonstrates just how painful their sting can be.
Like other species of hornets, the species can also sting again and again, unlike honeybees who sting once and die.
Per a recent New York Times article, as many as 50 people in Japan die each year from their attacks. Though this is a horrifying thought, the real threat they pose is on our friendly bees.
Murder hornets are a threat to the honeybees here. But only if they really take hold in America. In Asia, if a hornet intrudes a hive, the bees fight back and create a “hot defensive bee ball” to cook the hornet at a temperature they can’t withstand.
The colony works together and vibrates their bodies to create heat to kill the hornet. The good news is there are ways to beat the hornet, as the Asian honeybee knows, and scientists are working hard on finding inventive solutions.
As of now, there is no need to worry about the flying insect being this far south. Little Giant Beekeepers hopes it stays that way.
If you have other hornets, wasps, or bees please call 972-980-0923 for safe removal.