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Image via Washington Department of Agriculture
The Asian giant hornets, dubbed as “murder hornets,” have been spotted in Washington State for the first time, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture and Washington State University have released details about them to raise awareness of the species.
According to a report by the New York Times, “murder hornets” are known to be the largest species of hornet in the world. They are able to grow up to more than two inches, double the size of the common Euorpean hornet.
The name “murder hornet” is derived from the species’ ability to invade and wipe out honeybee colonies in a small group within a few hours. The giant hornets kill off other insects to feed themselves and regurgitate them back to their young.
These invaders are not welcome with open arms in the US, as they slaughter honeybees in hoards, affecting the agricultural conditions in America since honeybees pollinate various food crops such as apples and berries.
The giant hornets are also the only known species to release a special scent to lure other hornets to attack honeybees hives in teams, per entomology journal Psyche.
The giant hornets have long stingers, which can sting through beekeepers’ suit and cause “absolute searing pain,” according to YouTuber Coyote Peterson, who experimented with the hornet by getting stung himself.
The venom loaded in one of these hornets can release around seven times more than that of a honey bee. The hornets are also able to sting their victims more than once, making it easier and quicker for them to massacre honeybees.
However, the giant hornet’s sting rarely kills humans. It can lead to fatality only if someone is allergic to the venom or is stung by a large group of hornets. If you encounter these hornets in the wild, do not approach them as they are aggressive and territorial. State officials have advised people to stay away and inform them upon spotting the hornets.
The Asian giant hornets are often found in low-altitude forests and mountains and forms its nests underground. Though these hornets might seem terrifying, all hope is not lost. There are some ways to get rid of these giant hornets, such as the use of poison, baited traps, and controlled fires.