As if a global pandemic wasn’t frightening enough, news of another apocalyptic-nightmare-come-true has emerged as so-called “murder hornets” arrived in America. But the hornet, which is native to Asia and only recently sighted in Washington state, has met its insect match in the praying mantis.
A recent video is reminiscent of an epic movie battle showing the moment where the hero — in this case, a garden-variety praying mantis — annihilates the supervillain, played in real life by the giant hornet with large, dark eyes, menacing mandible, and scowling countenance.
The clip showed the praying mantis as it pounced from behind, clutched the unsuspecting insect, and immediately began to nibble at the hornet’s head.
While the hornet struggled and attempted to sting its attacker, the mantis continued to munch away unimpeded, occasionally slapping down the hornet’s counterattacks, until finally devouring a large section of the hornet’s head.
The Asian giant hornet, known to scientists as Vespa mandarinia, can be as large two inches long with a quarter-inch-long stinger that is strong enough to penetrate a beekeepers’ suit.
Its sting packs venom potent enough to send a man to the hospital or worse — the hornet is deadly for about 50 people annually in Japan, according to The New York Times.
More troubling, however, is the species’ appetite for European honeybees, which have no natural defense against the hornet and are already in trouble in the United States.
Just a few hornets are able to destroy an entire bee colony by invading the hive, ripping off the heads of adult bees, and feasting on the larvae and pupae, according to the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.
Asian bees, however, have adapted a clever defense against the predatory hornet.
Red State journalist Brandon Morse tweeted a video that showed how Japanese bees lure a hornet inside their nest, cluster together into a “bee ball” and beat their wings to increase the hive’s temperature.
The way Japanese bees deal with murder hornets is just brutal but satisfying. pic.twitter.com/8zjUloVzPY
— Brandon Morse (@TheBrandonMorse) May 5, 2020
The bees can withstand the heat, but the hornet is “roasted alive,” according to the clip’s narrator.
While the American media has sensationalized the insect, which WSU Department of Entomology bee breeder Susan Cobey described as “something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” the video showing the mantis expertly devouring the hornet is strangely comforting.
The establishment media thrives on public hysteria, and with the coronavirus pandemic possibly winding down, the huge hornet makes a great new nemesis.
But this appears to be just another bug, albeit a particularly ugly and ruthless one, but not one that is invincible as the media coverage would lead folks to believe.
Quite to the contrary, as it looks as though the species may become a new delicacy on the praying mantis’ lunch menu.
Scientists who closely monitor such species are doing important work to protect the honeybee population, but it is equally important to keep the threat in perspective.
When considering a media narrative, a little bit of critical thinking goes a long way for threat assessment — whether it is murder hornets or a global pandemic.
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