How Did Asian Murder Hornets Get to the US?

Tuesday, 05 May, 2020

The Asian Giant Hornet, which also goes by the nickname of the "murder hornet", has made its way to Washington State, theNew York Times reports.

"Three large insects found in the Nanaimo area were confirmed by Canadian and worldwide experts as Asian giant hornets", the report explains, marking the first time they have been discovered on Vancouver Island and in British Columbia.

The sting of an Asian giant hornet can even kill humans.

However, beekeepers in northwestern Washington state and Canada have found hundreds of decapitated honey bees, pointing to the presence of Asian Giant Hornets in North America.

But Asian giant hornets have been in British Columbia for some time, with the first hornets spotted near Nanaimo in August 2019. "If we can't do it in the next couple of years, it probably can't be done".

"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".

"Commercial beekeepers have 300 to 400 hives in the area", said Timothy Lawrence, director of the Island County extension office at Washington State University.

Their main target, however, is the hives of honeybees, which they attack and often will destroy, largely by decapitating the bees in the hive, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). According to the New York Post, Japan attributes 50 deaths per year to the killer insect. The property owner had also spotted a live giant hornet flying around.

USA researchers, government biologists and beekeepers are working together to trap hornets to determine precisely where they settled and to kill them before they set up shop for good.

In case you doubted that 2020 couldn't get worse, I have two words for you: "murder hornets".

Seth Truscott from WSU said they're sometimes transported in global cargo - in some cases deliberately.

The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture describes Asian giant hornets as "large compared to other hornets, with noticeably large orange heads and black eyes". The hornets launch most of their attacks on bees in the late summer and early fall.

"If you encounter these, run away", he said.