The hornets were first spotted in Washington state in December, and scientists believe they started becoming active again last month. For starters, it breeds fear like something straight out of a '70s monster movie such as 1974's The Killer Bees or 1978's The Swarm (just see, for instance, the nickname researchers have given it - the "murder hornet"). The hornets also can kill human if that person is stung multiple times. They're discouraging anyone from getting too close, as their stingers can penetrate even a beekeeper's suit.
Asian giant hornets are the largest hornet species in the world, growing up to 2 inches long with a three-inch wingspan.
Asian giant hornets hunt insects for food and generally are not interested in humans, pets and livestock. "It's a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees", Todd Murray, a WSU Extension entomologist and invasive species specialist said.
In this April 23, 2020, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a researcher holds a dead Asian giant hornet in Blaine, Wash. "We're scared that they are going to totally destroy our hives". The agency issued a pest alert for the invasive hornets in September 2019, warning that more hornets might be seen in the spring when queens emerge from hibernation and establish their annual nests. "So, I don't expect they'll be around very long", Schmidt said.
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Giant hornets from Asia made their first forays into North America in Canada, with sightings of three V. mandarinia hornets reported on British Columbia's Vancouver Island in mid-August 2019, according to British Columbia's Ministry of Agriculture.
The giant hornets especially target bees between late summer and fall. The hornets can quickly destroy entire beehives, infiltrating the hives and dispatching bees at a rate of 40 per minute by decapitating the bees and making off with their torsos to feed to their young. They're ordering special suits, as the Murder Hornets' stings can get through a regular beekeeper's suit. Scientists advise those who have been stung over 10 times by murder hornets should seek medical help while those who sustain more than 30 stings should seek emergency treatment.
Japanese honeybees, on the other hand, have been reported to have developed a way to kill the deadly giant wasp.
"We've only had a couple locations in Canada and one location in Washington State where we've found the hornets late a year ago in 2019", Todd Murray, Director of Washington State University's (WSU) Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension Program Unit, told Salon over email.