Insects That Murder! Who Knew?

A beekeeper by the name of Ted McFall could not wrap his head around a time where he had a job duty to check on a group of beehives near Custer, Washington. As he looked more closely he noticed bee carcasses on the ground along with thousands of bees with their heads torn off their bodies. There was no culprit to be seen, so the question was: Who had done this? 

Not too long after the discovery of the massacred bees that were in Custer, Washington, answers started to arise from researchers on who the culprits were. They are known as the Asian giant hornets with the given nickname “murder hornet”. Originating in Japan, these hornets are known to kill up to 50 people a year.

The queen hornets of this species can grow up to two inches long. They have mandibles that are spiked like shark fins that help to do the job of wiping out honeybee hives in a short period of time. After they decapitate the honeybees, they take their thoraxes away with them to feed their young. Not only do these “murder hornets” harm honeybees and their habitats, but they can also harm larger targets such as humans. Filled with a potent venom and stinger, which can puncture through a body suit, victims have describe the pain as a hot metal digging into their skin.

A hive  of murder hornets had been discovered on the Vancouver Island, just off of Canada’s Pacific Coast. A beekeeper and entomologist by the name of Conrad Bérubé was assigned to exterminate the hive. He put on his personal protective equipment which included shorts and thick sweatpants, and then his bee suit. Thinking that this would be enough, he was wrong. When he went to hunt for the hive during the nightly hours, a rustle of a bush and the light of his flash light had awoken the colony. He ended up getting stung up to seven times, which drew blood. With determination he eliminated the nest and collected his needed samples. He explained the next day his legs ached as if he had the flu, and said that the Asian giant hornet’s sting was the most painful he had ever experienced.

Research has explained that the “murder hornet” only becomes the most dangerous from the late summer to early fall. At this period of time is when they destroy the honey bee populations and habitats. Normally the “murder hornet” does not go after humans, but only when their hive is disturbed and a human is nearby.

Now that these giant hornets have made their way to the United States beginning in December, fear not only has heightened for people, but for the honeybee populations in the environment. Because of this fear, scientists have made it a goal to hunt these hornets due to the possibility that the hornets can decimate the bee populations. Scientists do not want eradication to be lost. An entomologist by the name of Chris Looney who works for the Washington State Department of Agriculture explained that if the hunt for the hornets does not happen in the next couple of years, it probably could not be done at all. Currently, Washington State officials are setting up traps in nearby locations to hopefully ease any harm to the honey bees and humans. 

For now, keep an eye out, stay safe, and watch for these pesky invaders! 



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