WASHINGTON, D.C.: Just when Americans thought they had hit bottom with the coronavirus calamity, another “murderer” — visible to the human eye this time — has made its way to their country.
Asian giant hornets were first sighted in December in Washington State. The New York Times reported that a beekeeper in Custer, Washington, discovered carcasses of his bees with decapitated heads. It was later discovered that they were killed by the two-inch hornets.
Hornet hives have also been spotted in two locations along the US-Canadian border. Dubbed the “murder hornet,” they especially hunts bees, favored for their protein source.
In April more sightings were reported, and there is concern that the local honeybee population — already drastically decreased — could be decimated by the influx of Asian hornets into the US.
Even though the hornets do not typically go after humans, if they do, not even beekeeping suits can protect against their 6-mm-long stingers, which are longer and more dangerous than a bee’s. The hornet’s bite has been described as “like a hot nail being driven into the flesh.”
While a single one cannot inject a lethal dose, aggressive group attacks could expose humans to doses of toxic venom equivalent to a snake’s. In Japan, 30-40 people are killed every year by Asian hornets.
Scientists say their life cycle begins in April, but they become most dangerous from late summer to early autumn, when just a few of them can wipe out entire beehives.
Scientists have set about hunting and setting traps for the hornet nests, to keep them from establishing a presence that would be difficult to wipe out later.