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- October 30, 2020
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A horrifically large species of Asian hornets, dubbed ‘murder hornets,’ are becoming active in the US with the arrival of warmer spring weather after being discovered in the country for the first time.
Scientists say the Asian giant hornets have become active last month after the queens came out of hibernation and began forming colonies. The deadly species was first discovered in Washington state last December, but experts say it is a matter of time before they make their way across the country.
The hornets can grow to be up to two inches long and earned their terrifying nickname because of their powerful venom which can kill a human if stung multiple times. They are also strong enough to penetrate a beekeeper’s suit. The hornets are known to be much more aggressive towards bees than humans, although they kill approximately 50 people a year in Japan.
Scientists are still unsure about how the hornets made it to the US from Asia. They were first discovered in Custer, Washington for the first time after beekeeper Ted McFall found his bees killed and decapitated, according to . It was later determined his McFalls’ bees were killed by the massive hornet species.
Susan Cobey, a bee breeder at Washington State University’s Department of Entomology, told the hornets are ‘like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face.’
The hornets’ venom has been known to send humans into anaphylactic shock or organ failure. It has also been known to destroy nerve endings and break down flesh. Those who have survived an attack by the hornets have had physical effects last for months, including inflammation of the liver and heart.
Todd Murray, an entomologist and invasive species specialist at Washington State University, called the ‘shockingly large hornet’ a ‘health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees.’
Researchers said the hornets are known to target beehives. They reportedly decapitate and kill the adults while eating the larvae and pupae. Because of their size and strength, a handful of hornets can destroy an entire hive of honey bees in just hours.
Experts urged people to stay away from the hornets and report any sightings.
‘Don’t try to take them out yourself if you see them,’ said Chris Looney, an entomologist at Washington’s agricultural department, told Washington State University.
‘If you get into them, run away, then call us! It is really important for us to know every sighting if we’re going to have any hope of eradication.’