Massive “murder” hornets spotted in Washington State


Massive “murder hornets” have been spotted in the United States, according to The huge insects are native to Asia and are known to rip off the heads of honeybees by the thousands. Also known as “hornets from hell” and “yak-killer hornets,” the Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) are the size of an average human thumb. They are orange-headed, orange-striped, and have large pointy stingers on the back end. These hornets were spotted in Washington State, as reported by The New York times on May 2. The extremely large stingers and powerful venom make them uniquely dangerous to humans, and they are responsible for up to 50 deaths in Japan each year, mostly due to allergic reactions to the hornets’ venom. ~

The hornets are native to forests and low-altitude mountains in eastern and southeastern Asia, but new evidence suggests that the hornet is starting to make some headway in North America. Entomologists are rushing to learn how widespread these invaders are in the US, and to isolate and destroy invasive populations before they become so numerous that they settle in for good. It is unknown how the hornets arrived in the US, but they were most likely introduced in a similar way as other types of invasive insects: they could have been deliberately released, or transported here as unseen stowaways in international cargo, Washington State University representatives said in a statement. ~

Only the females of the species have stingers, which can measure up to 0.2 inches (6 millimeters) long; the stingers can be used repeatedly; and they deliver a toxin that is “considerably venomous,” ADW says. The pain from their sting is significant, “like a hot nail through my leg,” Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University near Tokyo, said in 2002. The conditions in the Pacific Northwest are perfect for Asian giant hornets, according to a fact sheet issued by WSU. If the Asian giant hornet became established in the US, it’s impact on native bee populations would be “severe enough to cause significant disruptions,” said WSU associate professor Timothy Lawrence. ~

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