Washington State University on the hunt for the Asian murder hornets

As the world reels through the coronavirus pandemic, the internet latched on murder hornets as another odd phenomenon of the year 2020.

A small number of Asian giant hornet sightings has raised alarm in the United States previously.  In December 2019, WSDA verified four reports of Asian giant hornet near Blaine and Bellingham. These are the first-ever sighting in the United States.

The dread worsen as the term for the giant predator, murder hornets, started trending on Twitter. Consequently, several publications brought national consciousness regarding the situation and made the topic even more alarming.

What are murder hornets

Asian giant hornet, scientifically termed as Vespa mandarinia is the world’s largest species of hornet. The hornet has a distinctive look, with a cartoonishly fierce face featuring teardrop eyes like Spider-Man.

It has orange and black stripes that extend down its body like a tiger and broad, wispy wings just like a small dragonfly. The giant Asian insect, with a sting that could be fatal to some people, is just now starting to emerge from winter hibernation.

Susan Cobey, a beebreeder at Washington State University’s department of entomology described the insect as,

“Like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face.”

 

It is dangerous

According to Washington State Department of Agriculture, murder hornets can decapitate honeybees and destroy entire hives in the span of just a few hours. They then defend the hive as their own, taking the brood to feed their own young.

WSU Extension entomologist and invasive species specialist, Todd Murray further said,

“It’s a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees.”

The species is not usually interested in humans or animals but may sting if they or their ground nests are disturbed or threatened. Murder hornet’s longer stingers have toxic venom which could potentially kill people. As a matter of fact, the insect kill about 50 people per year in Japan.

Efforts to eradicate murder hornets

Efforts to contain the spread of the hornets have been ramping up in recent weeks. Scientists with the WSDA Pest Program are taking the lead on finding, trapping and eradicating the pest.

The department gave advice to take preventative measures by covering food and garbage in and outside people’s respective homes. Furthermore, the agency voiced out,

“If you get into them, run away, then call us! It is really important for us to know of every sighting, if we’re going to have any hope of eradication.”

People can contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture Pest Program at 1‑800‑443‑6684, [email protected] or online at agr.wa.gov/hornets if they need to report an Asian giant hornet sighting.

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Image Courtesy of Nat Geo WILD/Youtube Screenshot

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