The United States’ bee population is in total jeopardy after the arrival of “murder hornets,” known as the Asian giant hornet, in Blaine, Washington.
In a report by the New York Times, beekeeper Ted McFall witnessed the devastating aftermath of a murder hornet’s attack. He went to check up on a group of hives only to see bee carcasses on the ground. The colony was filled with thousands of bees that had their heads torn from their bodies. In the interview, he said, “I couldn’t wrap my head around what could have done that.”
Asian giant hornets grow up to 2-inch long and prey on other insects, especially bees. The Sun reports that the native Southeast Asian critters can kill someone allergic to the venom. Every year, Japan reports around 50 deaths caused by Asian giant hornets. In the scientific journal NeoBiota, French researchers evaluated the estimated cost of devastation that these hornets can bring once they invade the U.S. and Europe.
Asian hornets impact the ecosystem negatively, and combined with the decline of pollination and honey production, America may lose $29.3 million if the invasion takes place. Researchers say that baiting hornets and destroying their nests are not enough to eradicate the growing species. Their research concluded to dividing costs into three main categories; prevention, fighting the invasion, and controlling the damage.
WSU Extention entomologist and invasive species specialist told Washington State University of how the Asian giant hornets can affect the ecosystem, leaving a footprint that will last “forever.” Todd Murray stated,” As a new species entering our state, this is the first drop in the bucket. 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 the chance.”
Asian giant hornets attack using their mandibles that are shaped like spiked shark fins. In a matter of hours, it can wipe out a whole honeybee hive and decapitate the bees. They will fly away with thoraxes, which they use to feed their young. A hornet’s stinger is long enough to puncture a protective beekeeping suit. The venom and stinger cause excruciating pain. Victims describe the sensation like a hot metal driving into the skin.
The Asian giant hornet has teardrop eyes similar to the cartoon character Spider-Man. It has orange and black stripes that reach down to its body and has broad wings identical to that of a dragonfly’s.
McFall isn’t the first witness to the invasive species. Two predatory insects were already discovered in December 2019, in the northwest corner of Washington State. Now, scientists are in on a full-scale hunt. Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, stated, “This is our window to keep it from establishing. If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done.”
The Asian giant hornet is also believed to have already crossed the border in Canada.
As of now, Dr. Looney and a group of other scientists are creating special traps in Blaine to catch hornets before they become active in the summer. Should a hornet be found, Dr. Looney said that they plan to use radio-frequency identification tags or attach a small streamer to follow the hornet to its nests and destroy it.
The Asian giant hornets are different as they can carry the weight of markers, as opposed to that of smaller creatures.
If you see this, then you should probably walk away.