Asian giant hornets have made it to America. Upsetting just a handful of these guys can be lethal to humans, and they’re also bad news for honeybees.
Asian giant hornets – aka “murder hornets” – have recently arrived in Canada, the U.S., England and the Netherlands.
First spotted in British Columbia in late 2019, the largest wasps in the world made their way into Washington State in early 2020.
This week, the third and fourth nests were found and destroyed in the state. Since then, there has been another Asian hornet sighting 20 miles east of the destroyed nests, suggesting they are traveling toward Idaho. Each nest contains about 1500 hornets and larvae.
Orange and black striped Asian giant hornets can grow up to 2 inches in length, with quarter-inch stingers that can sting through thick clothing and even protective gear worn by beekeepers.
It only takes three or four Asian hornets to kill a person. Unlike the honeybee who can only sting once, murder hornets can each sting 10 times, and have super potent venom.
Their stings feel “like a hot nail being driven into my leg,” one Tokyo entomologist told Smithsonian Magazine.
And when you get one sting, more hornets are likely to arrive as “their venom is like a magnet to other hornets,” according to beekeeper Anthony Planakis.
“The worst thing anyone can do with these things is kill them,” he told The New York Post, adding that “that scent is going to be airborne, and the rest of the hive will come.”
Instead, if you think you see a nest, pictured below, call your state agriculture department, as they are best equipped to track and destroy the nests.
On top of posing a threat to humans, invasive Asian hornets pose an enormous threat to native honeybees, destroying entire hives within hours by decapitation.