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article imageInvasive Asian giant hornets found in U.S. for the first time

By Karen Graham     May 2, 2020 in Science
If you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, Asian giant hornets have appeared in the United States for the first time. Two of the giant hornets have been spotted in Washington State and a full hive across the border in British Columbia.
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), is also known as the "yak-killer hornet," or the "murder hornet," And it comes by these colloquial names honestly. It is the world's largest hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia.
The hornet is about the size of an adult's thumb, with a body length of 45 millimeters (1.8 inches), a wingspan around 75 millimeters (3.0 inches), and a stinger 6 millimeters (0.24 inches) long, which injects a large amount of potent venom. In Japan, these hornets kill about 50 people every year, according to The Guardian.
And while they can kill people - and yaks, as an invasive species, they are a real threat to the European honeybee, which is defenseless in the face of the hornet’s spiky mandibles, long stinger, and potent venom. When they attack honeybee hives, the hornets literally decapitate the bees and take the hive as their own, using the thoraxes from the dead bees to feed their young.
Four sightings in north-western Washington state
The Washington State Department of Agricultural verified four reports of Asian giant hornets in two north-western cities in December. In a statement on April 6, the WSDA described the hornet in detail, asking the public's help in hunting down the bee-killers.
“It’s a shockingly large hornet,” added Todd Murray, WSU Extension entomologist, and invasive species specialist, in the statement. “It’s a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees.”
“We need to teach people how to recognize and identify this hornet while populations are small,” he said, “so that we can eradicate it while we still have a chance.”
Rian Wojahn, the eradication coordinator for the WSDA, told TIME in an email. “Local beekeepers and other agencies are also helping get information out and using our trapping protocols to deploy traps.”
In mid-September, 2017, a wheelchair-bound 87-year-old Japanese pensioner was attacked by giant hornets in and stung 150 times. Her helper called firefighters but they could not reach the woman immediately as the swarm around her was too thick and they had no protective equipment. After the ordeal, which lasted around 50 minutes, the woman was rushed to hospital but died the following day
Hornets, famine, pestilence, and war
The New York Times also published this story on Saturday, but it may have been a bit too, too much for many people, prompting a slew of comments on social media.
More about Asian Giant Hornet, Invasive species, Washington state, British columbia, yakkiller hornet
 
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