Murder Hornets Have Landed in the U.S. — But Don’t Panic Yet
When the coronavirus pandemic hit and made it obvious we faced a deadly threat, our collective stress levels shot through the stratosphere. Record unemployment numbers and plummeting oil prices added to the chaos and turmoil disrupting every American life. Enter the murder hornet to shake things up even further.
After months of quarantine and fear, the last thing anyone needs is to worry about an invasion of mutant giant hornets. Obviously, the name is terrifying, but are these creatures really as dangerous as the name would have us all believe? Are these monster bees actually murderous, or is their name blown completely out of proportion? Here’s all the buzz you need to know about murder hornets in the U.S.
What in the World Is a Murder Hornet?
The Asian giant hornet, also known (terrifyingly) as the murder hornet, is the world’s largest hornet. These insects can grow to 2 inches or longer and have 3-inch wingspans. "Yikes!" is actually a bit of an understatement. These hornets are native to temperate and tropical locations throughout eastern and southern Asia, and they prefer to live in low mountainous and forested areas where they can make their nests in the ground by either digging holes or taking over abandoned rodent nests.
Are Murder Hornets Really Murderous?
With a name like murder hornet, it’s not surprising the internet is abuzz with fear, rumors and wild speculation. Some recent memes have even poked fun at the growing hysteria by featuring a showdown between the hornets and COVID-19. Considering how easy it is to whip the internet into a frenzy, it’s important to focus on what experts have to say before panicking. So, how concerned should we really be about an invasion of murder hornets?
Do the Hornets Pose a Threat to Honey Bees?
While the idea of death by hornet stings is certainly the stuff of nightmares, honey bees actually have a lot more to fear from the hornets than the average human. The typical Asian giant hornet is five times the size of a European honey bee, and it only takes a small number of them to wipe out entire colonies of honey bees. In fact, a single Asian giant hornet can kill more than 40 honey bees in a single minute. Multiply that horrifying number by whole hives of giant hornets, and the entire U.S. honey bee population could be decimated in a matter of months.
What Should I Do if I See a Murder Hornet?
Unfortunately, spotting these giant hornets in Washington probably means the insects will attempt to move (or be accidentally transported) into other parts of the United States. If you spot one, you shouldn’t attempt to do anything yourself. Experts are tracking hornet sightings in Washington state to determine how widespread the problem is becoming. Nearly all the reported deaths in Japan occurred because people disturbed hornet nests. Report the sighting, but do not interact with the hornet intentionally.
How Concerned Should I Really Be?
The name "murder hornet" certainly sounds scary, and you should definitely avoid interaction with this or any other type of hornet, but the U.S. is not currently experiencing a full-on takeover by this invasive species. Scientists in Washington state are vigilantly searching for hives to eliminate the hornets.