After Covid-19, US now battles murder hornets which threaten humans too
The stinging Vespa Mandarinia can grow as large as 2.5 inches in length and is native to Southeast Asia, China and Taiwan.Updated: May 06, 2020 11:14 IST
The United States is already battling the deadly coronavirus pandemic, and it has a new problem to deal with: Murder hornets.
The invasive and predatory insect has turned up in Washington state near the Canadian border, where they could potentially pose a threat to humans and the beekeeping industry.
The stinging Vespa Mandarinia can grow as large as 2.5 inches in length and is native to Southeast Asia, China and Taiwan. It was first discovered in Blaine, Washington, in December by a homeowner though authorities are not sure how they reached the US.
“An Asian giant hornet can sting you multiple times and deliver larger doses of venom just because of the size of them. The venom itself is fairly toxic and creates localized necrosis around the wound so you’ll see melting flesh around the wound,” managing entomologist at the Washington state Agriculture Department Sven-Erik Spichiger told news agency Reuters.
“The hornets enter a slaughter phase where they kill bees by decapitating them. They then defend the hive as their own, taking the brood to feed their own young,” according to the official website of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. A few hornets can destroy a hive in a matter of hours, it further said.
Scientists in the US are now hunting for the hornets, in a bid to eradicate the species before they wipe out the bee population in the country.
While the hornets usually don’t attack people or pets, they can do so if threatened. Their stinger is longer than that of a honeybee and their venom is more toxic. They can also sting repeatedly. Multiple stings can kill humans, agricultural scientists in the US said.
A report in the New York Times said that murder hornet stings are believed to cause “as many of 50 human fatalities every year”.
The insects are roughly the size of a matchbox and have large yellow-red heads and a black-yellow striped body.
“They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” Susan Cobey, a bee breeder with Washington State University’s entomology department, said in a press release on Monday.
The Vespa Mandarinia is the largest existing species of hornets in the world, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
Canada had also discovered Asian giant hornet in two locations in British Columbia in the fall of 2019, it further said.