Asian Giant Hornets: A new threat on U.S. soil

Honey bees threatened by Asian Giant Hornets

The arrival of Asian Giant Hornets went unnoticed for many Americans. With everybody’s full focus on the Corona Virus during recent months, another unwelcome gift from Asia. This threat received less than the deserved amount of attention. Like something out of a horror movie, Asian Giant Hornets are threatening the United States bee population. These monsters threaten our crops and our livelihood, and got the nickname “Murder Hornets.”

Why is that so serious?

Bees are the most important pollinating insects. Honey bees and other bees are crucial for pollination of food crops. Although bats and birds are also pollinators, bees are crucial for approximately one third of the food Americans consume every day. Our entire bee population is at risk of being wiped out by the Asian giant hornets. No wonder they were given the supervillain nickname of “murder hornets” by entomologists and others.

What is the modus operandi of Murder Hornets?

The Asian giant hornet’s body can grow up to two inches long. An entomologist and bee breeder at the Washington State University likened them to monster cartoon characters with massive yellow-orange faces. Their targets are the smaller bees, and they can wipe out entire hives of bees within only a few hours.

However, if a single Asian Giant Hornet enters a beehive, up to 400 worker bees in the hive will attack the hornet. The vibration of their wings will raise the temperature and increase carbon dioxide levels. The hornet will not survive these conditions, but its pheromonal call will attract enough hornet to overwhelm the nest.

This invasive species slaughters honey bees by decapitating them. They take over the hive and feed their young with the thoraxes of the dead bees. It is also crucial to remove any dead hornets because their exposed innards will attract more of them.

Do Asian Giant Hornets threaten humans?

Beekeepers report that the stingers of these giant hornets have no problem with penetrating through the beekeepers’ suits. A British Columbia beekeeper who has first-hand experience says the sting is more painful than any other he has ever experienced. He compares it to having red-hot thumbtacks pushed into his flesh. Reportedly, it could be deadly if a person suffers multiple stings, and about 50 sting-victims die in Japan each year.

You may not ever see an Asian Giant Hornet, but an entire nest of decapitated dead honey bees instead. Murder Hornets are only likely to attack humans unless you disturb their nest. Rubbing the area of a bite will promote the spreading of the venom. Placing a cold pack or ice cube on the spot can reduce inflammation. Victims of multiple stings could develop allergic or toxic reactions, and dizziness or lightheadedness is a sign to seek immediate medical attention.

How serious is the risk posed by Asian Giant Hornets?

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, it is crucial to eradicate the threat within the next two years. The Asian Giant Hornets go into hibernation through the winter, and the queen wakes up in April. That was also when the mad rush started to stop the murder hornets from multiplying. Experts believe that they would lose the battle if they cannot stop the threat soon. Irreversible damage to our honey bee population would be the result. Not to mention the adverse impact on crops and our food supply nationwide.

Authorities at the Washington State Department of Agriculture say four verified reports of sighting Asian Giant Hornets occurred in December 2019. They believe that the measures to stop the invasion will not work if they are not successful within a couple of years.

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