World Media

'Murder hornet' invasion in United States sows dread over threat to bees, humans


In a New York Times story that made the term "murder hornets" trend on Twitter on Saturday, Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist in Nanaimo, Canada, described being stung by an Asian giant hornet as "like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh".

The "murder hornet" has a venomous sting that can kill a human if they are stung several times.

The worry now is these hornets could spread in the USA and have a serious effect on the bee population, which in turn negatively impacts the many crops that need bees for pollination. The murderous insects were also seen north of the border in British Columbia.

Scientists are reportedly seeking to track the invasive species to prevent further bee colonies from being eradicated while attempting to reduce the murder hornet population, The Hill reported.

"The most likely time to catch Asian giant hornets is from July through October - when colonies are established and workers are out foraging", Washington State Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

Scientists in Washington first spotted the hornets back in December, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Now, deadly hornets from Asia that measure up to 2 inches long have been found for the first time in the U.S. - and researchers are anxious they're colonizing.

The hornets primarily attack insects but will direct their aggression toward people if they're threatened.

In Japan, up to 50 people a year have died after being stung, though the hornet is usually only aggressive to humans if it is disturbed. While a honeybee hive can have thousands of residents, hornets can wipe out the entire population in hours. "It's a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honeybees".

But while officials are enlisting the public's help in locating the hornets, they're also encouraging people to be cautious. Looks like we have to call them "murder hornets". "It is really important for us to know of every sighting, if we're going to have any hope of eradication".

You can watch Looney's full webinar on the hornet's presence in the Pacific northwest below.