A May 2nd article published by the New York Times shed light on a new problem the United States is facing, something that they called “Murder Hornets.”
These hornets, which are Asian giant hornets, earned their new nickname because of what they do to bee colonies. These hornets can wipeout an entire hive in hours by decapitating the bees and taking their thoraxes to feed their young.
Scientists say that the hornet isn’t an immediate threat to humans because there aren’t many of them currently in the United States. They also don’t attack humans unprovoked, but around 50 deaths are reported from stings every year in Japan. The Washington Post reports that their stings have enough venoms to dissolve human flesh.
The hornets carry a neurotoxin called mandarotoxin and it takes more than one sting to inject a fatal dose into a human. According to retired NYPD beekeeper Anthony “Tony Bees” Planakis, a single sting isn’t likely. He adds that inside their venom “is a pheromone, which is like a magnet to other hornets. So you can get swarmed just from getting stung by one.”
These “Murder Hornets” were actually spotted in the United Stated for the first time back in December in Washington state. Four reports of “Murder Hornets” were made in Washington, while they were spotted in two different locations in British Columbia in the fall.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure how the Asian giant hornets made their way to the states, but their best guess is that they were hibernating in a ship or product that was transported from Asia to the United States.
In a new update, the Washington Post says, “Scientists are hunting for the insects, whose queens can grow to two inches long, in hopes of rounding them up before they become rooted in the United States and destroy bee populations that are crucial to crop pollination.”
Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, told the New York Times, “If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done.”
Washington state employees have a plan to destroy the hornets’ hives this spring and summer before they increase their population.
We hope they can!