What one expert called “something out a monster cartoon” has now arrived in the United States.
The Asian giant hornet, which can decimate bee colonies and is responsible for 50 deaths a year in Japan, is now in Washington state, according to The New York Times.
A new threat reaches the United States: A massive hornet with mandibles that rip bees to shreds and a stinger so potent that one unfortunate victim likened it to “having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh.”https://t.co/miU3QLGCF9
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) May 2, 2020
“They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” Susan Cobey, a bee breeder with Washington State University’s Department of Entomology, said in an article on WSU’s website.
“It’s a shockingly large hornet,” Todd Murray, a WSU extension entomologist, said. “It’s a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees.”
The Washington Department of Agriculture has said the insect was definitely present last year near Blaine, on the state’s coast across from the Canadian border. The agency also lists two reports from nearby Custer as probable.
Jun-ichi Takahashi, a researcher at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, said the bugs earned the nickname of “murder hornet” because group attacks can deliver a lethal dose of venom.
Washington Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney, however, said the average person is not at high risk, according to USA Today.
The hornets are “probably not going to murder someone … don’t panic,” Looney said.
The insects’ arrival caused a buzz on Twitter.
These things look terrifying. I’m allergic to bee stings.
— Getorganizedtoday (@Getorganized2da) May 4, 2020
I can’t believe we already have a killer virus and murder hornets are on the way. Asia is just really set on unleashing hell on everyone.
— Cassandra Fairbanks 🕊⏳ (@CassandraRules) May 4, 2020
So instead of locust we’re getting murder hornets… great pic.twitter.com/8yOeFNagFC
— 𝖔𝖘𝖈𝖆𝖗 (@morqve) May 4, 2020
Because the Asian giant hornet has the potential to decimate Washington state’s bee population, officials are on the lookout for more sightings so they can wipe out the hornet before it can do damage.
“This is our window to keep it from establishing,” Looney said, according to The Times. “If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done.”
“As a new species entering our state, this is the first drop in the bucket,” Murray said.
“Just like that, it’s forever different,” he said. “We need to teach people how to recognize and identify this hornet while populations are small, so that we can eradicate it while we still have a chance.”
Beekeepers have placed traps to capture any hornets.
“Most people are scared to get stung by them,” beekeeper Ruthie Danielsen told The Times. “We’re scared that they are going to totally destroy our hives.”
How the insects made it from Asia to Washington state is not known.
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