Coronavirus has devastated 2020. And to add insult to injury, “murder hornets” are now another thing we have to worry about.
According to the New York Post, “Deadly hornets from Asia that measure up to 2 inches long have been found for the first time in the US — and researchers are worried they’re colonizing.” They also add that the hornets can wipe out bee colonies within hours, and they have stingers powerful enough to puncture beekeeping suits.
The outlet explains that the hornets are easy to spot. They have “teardrop eyes like Spider-Man, orange and black stripes that extend down its body like a tiger, and broad, wispy wings like a small dragonfly.” In Japan, roughly 50 human deaths a year are attributed to the hornets. And now, they have been spotted in Washington.
But do we need to worry about them? In a nutshell, Forbes says no. “The murder hornet is much, much, much less of an immediate threat to human life.” They explain in detail that, “Instead, human deaths could occur via a sting that carries a venom, called mandarotoxin, which is a neurotoxin. It usually takes multiple stings to deliver a lethal dose for humans.” The New York Times reports that Jun-ichi Takahashi, a researcher at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, said the species had earned the “murder hornet” nickname because its aggressive group attacks can expose victims to doses of toxic venom equivalent to that of a venomous snake; a series of stings can be fatal. They also report that Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist in the town of Nanaimo, Canada was stung by multiple hornets, and said, “It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh.” The next day, he said that his legs were aching as if he had the flu.
“Of the thousands of times he has been stung in his lifetime of work, he said the Asian giant hornet stings were the most painful,” the Times wrote.
The hornets represent a much bigger threat to the bee population. And while you might not think you’ll miss bees, this could have a massive effect on our food supply.
For your viewing pleasure, here’s a video of murder hornets killing innocent honey bees: