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'Murder hornets' - danger to the average person is low

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May 03, 2020 | 11:13

The murder hornets made their way to the U.S. for the first time.The hornets are “probably not going to murder someone … don’t panic”, USA Today reported.

murder hornets danger to the average person is low
'Murder hornets' - danger to the average person is low

What does a murder Hornet look like?

A roughly two-inch long insect known as the "murder hornet" has made its way to the U.S. for the first time ever, researchers said.

The Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, has been known to kill up to 50 people a year in Japan, according to The New York Times, and has the potential to devastate U.S. bee populations, which have already been declining.

murder hornets danger to the average person is low

Susan Cobey, bee breeder with Washington State University's Department of Entomology, told WSU Insider that the hornets are "like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face."

The hornets are usually between 1.5 to 2 inches long, have large yellow-orange heads with prominent eyes, and a black and yellow striped abdomen.

murder hornets danger to the average person is low
An invasive hornet species slaughters honeybees, can be deadly to humans and –unfortunately – has been spotted in the United States

The hornets made their way to the U.S. for the first time in December, when the Washington State Department of Agriculture verified four reports of sightings.

The hornets were also spotted in two locations in British Columbia in the fall, according to WSDA.

murder hornets danger to the average person is low

Can murder hornets kill you? How are dangerous?

Scientists say the Asian giant hornet's life cycle begins in April. Researchers told WSU that is when the queen wakes up from hibernation and scouts out spots to build underground nests and grow colonies.

Todd Murray, WSU Extension entomologist and invasive species specialist, told WSU Insider the "shockingly large hornet" is a "health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees."

But murder hornets become most dangerous from late summer to early fall, when they ravage through honey bee populations. WSU researchers said the hornets attack the bee hives, decapitating and killing the adults and eating the larvae and pupae. Just a few of the hornets can completely destroy a hive in a matter of hours.

WSDA says on their website that the hornets do not typically go after humans, but if they do, not even beekeeping suits can protect against the hornets' stingers, which are longer and more dangerous than a bee's.

YouTube personality Coyote Peterson has shown what the sting is like on his show "Brave Wilderness." The video shows an "instant goose egg" forming on his arm where the hornet stung.

Researchers say the sting of a murder hornet is painful and packed with neurotoxins. Even if someone is not allergic to the hornet, multiple stings have the potential to kill.

Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist in Nanaimo, British Columbia, told The New York Times that the day after he got stung, he legs ached like he had the flu, and the sting was the most painful sting he's ever experienced.

Murder Hornets - danger to person is low, don't panic

It’s a fittingly upsetting nickname, based on a lengthy March presentation from Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney.

It opened with a slide listing other ominous titles for the the largest hornet in the world: “yak killer hornet” and “giant sparrow bee” among them.

This spring, the Washington state Department of Agriculture started hunting for Asian giant hornets after two confirmed sightings of the predator.

And while officials are concerned, especially for local honeybee populations, the danger to the average person is low at this time Looney, confirmed to USA TODAY Saturday.

The hornets are “probably not going to murder someone … don’t panic,” Looney said.

Looney described a lifecycle where Asian giant hornets attack individual honeybees in the early summer – turning prey into a “meatball” to feed to hornet larvae. Soon, the hornets abandon this “hunting phase” in favor of the “slaughter phase” – the wholesale killing of bee colonies so the hornets can plunder their hives.

Efforts to contain the spread of the hornets, which prey on virtually any insect in addition to honeybees, have been ramping up in recent weeks, Looney said Saturday.

Asian murder Hornet sightings can be reported to the Washington State Department of Agriculture Pest Program at 1-800-443-6684, [email protected] or online at agr.wa.gov/hornets.
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Source: AP, USA Today, Sportscool