US state abuzz with alarm over invasion of ‘murder hornets’

Asian giant hornets were first sighted in December in Washington State. (WSDA)
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Updated 04 May 2020

US state abuzz with alarm over invasion of ‘murder hornets’

  • Asian giant hornets are called “murder hornets” because they especially hunt bees for their protein source
  • In Japan, 30-40 people are killed every year by Asian hornets

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.  

 

 


Silent but cheerful, mannequins enforce social distancing at Tokyo bar

Updated 51 min 11 sec ago

Silent but cheerful, mannequins enforce social distancing at Tokyo bar

  • Tokyo recently began to ease restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

TOKYO: They may not be helping out with chants but complete with cheerleader uniforms and pom-poms, mannequins at one Tokyo bar are helping keep customers a safe — and cheerful — distance apart.
Tokyo recently began to ease restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a respite for bars and restaurants dependent on the city’s normally thriving nightlife even if customers are not yet back in full force.
“Our restaurant looked very empty and we wanted to add more excitement,” said Arata Funabara, owner of Cheers One, a cheerleading-themed bar in the capital’s upscale Ginza district which counts both women and men among its clientele.
Other safety measures include face shields and gloves for the bar’s cheerleader waitresses who perform karaoke songs on request. The shields and gloves are also on offer for patrons.
Waitress Chinatsu Fujii said the mannequins made for a safer work environment.
“It takes a bit of getting used to but it’s reassuring that they are here and I think of them of workmates,” she said.
Japan has recorded some 17,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 900 deaths.