Giant Asian hornets, also known as Vespa mandarinia, are capable of killing humans and destroying honeybee hives. The hornets first arrived in the U.S. in late 2019 and have since made their way to Texas, where they’ve killed eight people so far this year (via Newsweek).
These insects can fly up to 50 miles per hour but only live for about three weeks during their adult phase before dying off during winter months (per Buzzfeed). If you’re worried about these deadly insects making their way over to your hometown soon (and who isn’t?), keep reading for more information on what makes these things so dangerous:
They first arrived in the United States in late 2019.
You might be familiar with this story: in September 2019, a shipment of exotic plants arrived at a U.S. port from South America. The plant-based cargo had been shipped from Paraguay and was bound for a Florida greenhouse owned by an American company that specialized in ornamental plants. But when inspectors opened the containers, they found something much more sinister than just greenery—a swarm of “murder hornets” hiding among them!
The murder hornet is native to South America, but it has been expanding its territory northward over the past few years because of climate change and habitat destruction. In late August 2019, one such colony escaped confinement during an inspection at Miami International Airport—and now they’ve reached us here on U.S. soil!
The giant hornets are nicknamed “murder hornets” because they can kill humans.
You may have heard the name “murder hornet” in the news or online. The name is a nickname for the giant Asian giant hornet, also known as Vespa mandarinia. This species of wasp is not actually a hornet but rather a large yellow-and-black wasp that can kill humans within minutes.
The reason these insects are called “murder” hornets is because they attack their victims with such ferocity that their stings can cause death within minutes. They have killed people in Japan and China, where they are most common—and if you ever find yourself face to face with one of these dangerous creatures, it’s important to know how you should react if you want to stay alive!
Asian giant hornets are also capable of decapitating entire honeybee hives.
The Asian giant hornet is a predator of honey bees, which are an essential pollinator species. As climate change continues to increase the already-present threats of habitat loss and pesticide use on honeybees, we may see more cases of these wasps targeting hives in North America. This could be especially problematic given that the native range for this species is expanding rapidly in Europe and Asia.
While it might seem like a simple matter to simply eradicate any nests found near human activity, this isn’t always possible—Asian giant hornets kill off their prey by decapitation and dismemberment; not only do they leave behind nothing but dismembered bee bodies, but also a distinctive smell that attracts other giant hornets from miles away (which means that destroying one nest will only lead to another being built elsewhere).
The insects can easily destroy a hive of tens of thousands of bees overnight, according to Newsweek.
Honeybees are an important part of the global agricultural industry. The insects pollinate more than 100 crops, including almonds, apples and blueberries according to Newsweek. Honeybees themselves have been in decline for years due to pesticide use and other environmental factors.
The National Resources Defense Council estimates that honeybees contribute $15 billion worth of crop production each year in the United States alone. Without them, our food supply would suffer greatly—and probably cost us more money at the grocery store!
Asian giant hornets are terrifying but we have time to figure out how to stop them.
The first thing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to the Asian giant hornet, we do have time. We can take steps now to defend ourselves against them and prevent their spread.
For example, in Japan’s case, they are working on building traps that kill off large numbers of these insects at once—and these traps are proving effective. The problem is that these traps need an enormous amount of manpower and resources to operate effectively . This means that our best bet for dealing with these creatures may be through prevention rather than confrontation; stopping their spread before they get established in new areas would save us money and effort later on down the line.
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