Since November 2019 sightings of the Asian giant hornets (a.k.a. murder hornets) have been spotted in the United States and Canada. These insects are indigenous to East Asia. It is unclear how these deadly hornets came overseas.
Murder hornets can reach anywhere between one and two inches in size. They normally tend to live in low mountain or forested areas. They create underground nests by digging in areas where small rodents have already burrowed. Also, they will find suitable nesting grounds near rotted pine roots.
What Do They Look Like?
The murder hornets’ nest ranges between two and 23.62 inches in depth. The queen murder hornet is the biggest in the colony. Male murder hornets are similar to their female counterparts, however, they lack a stinger. The queen is not the only one that has reproductive anatomy, in spite of that fact, workers do not reproduce.
The head of the murder hornet is broad and a light shade of orange. Typically the antennae are a medium/dark shade of brown, with yellow basal segments. They have a set of compound eyes that range from dark brown to black in color. Surrounding the compound eye, they have three plain eyes similar in color. Murder hornets have a large deep orange-hued mandible with a black tooth they use to burrow.
These wasp species are unique in the fact that they will stage group attacks against other wasp species and beehives. They have been known to kill at least 50 people a year in their native lands.
How Are They Deadly?
The stinger of the murder hornet is filled with a venom that contains neurotoxins. These neurotoxins can cause cardiac arrest and anaphylactic shock. A beekeeper on Vancouver Island stated that when he was attacked by a swarm of murder hornets “It felt like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh.” He was stung seven times and is extremely lucky to have survived.
Though murder hornets can be deadly to humans, scientists are more concerned with them killing the bees. They are extremely viscous and can kill an entire colony of bees in just hours. Murder hornets nest underground most of the year, becoming active between the months of July through November.
November 2019, a beekeeper in Washington state found his entire colony of honeybees with their heads torn off. Upon finding his bees in that state the beekeeper was completely dumbfounded. “I couldn’t wrap my head around what could have done that,” the man commented.
Scientists are now on the hunt for these murder hornets before they kill off honeybees forever. This task is a bit difficult since the hornet can fly up to 20 miles per hour. If anyone spots a murder hornet(s) please contact the area’s local wildlife control to report it.
By Sheena Robertson
Edited by Jeanette Vietti
Daily Mail: Giant ‘murder hornets’ that kill up to 50 people a year in Asia have invaded the US: Scientists desperately try to stop spread of predator bugs that decimate bee colonies
Inquistir: The ‘Murder Hornet,’ An Invasive And Deadly Insect, Has Arrived In The United States
Animal Diversity: Vespa mandarinia
AOL: Looks like the U.S. might have ‘murder hornets’ now
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