What are 'murder hornets'? Washington officials prepare to destroy first Asian giant hornet nest discovered

What are 'murder hornets'? Washington officials prepare to destroy first Asian giant hornet nest discovered
Asian Giant Hornet (Getty Images)

Asian giant hornets also called, "murder hornets" and known for their predatory nature towards Honeybees have been spotted by entomologists with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in a first such nest discovery in the US. 

The nests have been located on October 21 and 22 in the cavity of a tree on a property in the city of Blaine, Whatcom County, Washington near the Canadian border. Discovery came after radio trackers attached to the bugs led scientists to the site. “While Asian giant hornets normally nest in the ground, they are occasionally found nesting in dead trees. Dozens of the hornets were seen entering and exiting the tree while the WSDA team was present. The property owner has already provided permission for WSDA staff to eradicate the nest and remove the tree, if necessary”, WSDA said in a statement.

The creatures have got the name of 'murder hornets' as they can wipe out entire beehives in a matter of hours and their sting can be deadly to humans. They are an “ invasive pest not native to the U.S. are the world’s largest hornet and a predator of honey bees and other insects. A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours.”


This is why WSDA staff along with citizen scientists and other cooperators have been involved in tracking and eliminating them.

Catching Asian Giant Hornets (Getty Images)


What are Murder Hornets?

Asian giant hornet aka Murder Hornets known by their biological name Vespa mandarinia is the world’s largest species of hornet as per WSDA. They emerge mainly in April.

They are especially a threat to Honey beehives. WSDA states, “Asian giant hornet attacks and destroys honeybee hives. A few hornets can destroy a hive in a matter of hours. The hornets enter a ‘slaughter phase’ where they kill bees by decapitating them. They then defend the hive as their own, taking the brood to feed their own young. They also attack other insects but are not known to destroy entire populations of those insects. While they do not generally attack people or pets, they can attack when threatened. Their stinger is longer than that of a honeybee and their venom is more toxic. They can also sting repeatedly.”
The site also warns about not going near hornets. “Use extreme caution near Asian giant hornets. The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is longer than that of a honey bee and is more dangerous than any local bee or wasp. Typical beekeeping protective clothing is not sufficient to protect you from stings. If you find a colony, do not attempt to remove or eradicate it. Report it to WSDA immediately. Anyone who is allergic to bee or wasp stings should never approach an Asian giant hornet. “

 As per Daily Mail, farmers in the northwestern US depend on those honey bees to pollinate many crops, including raspberries and blueberries. Hence hornets' presence can jeopardize farming activities. The publication reported that hornets, wasps, and bees typically found in the US kill an average of 62 people in a year.  As per WSDA, there is a possibility that hornets can have negative impacts on the environment, economy, and public health. Earlier in 2019, the Asian giant hornets were spotted in the US, British Columbia, and Canada. 


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