WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Giant hornets native to Asia were spotted for the first time in Washington state, posing a threat to the country’s already declining bee population.
- Asian giant hornets are the world’s largest in the world and can be over two inches long.
- These insects are also known as “murder hornets” because their sting can kill not only bees but also humans.
With the coronavirus pandemic causing so much chaos, you wouldn’t think 2020 could get any worse. It looks like it just did.
Asian hornets have been spotted in the United States for the first time, more specifically around Washington state. With the country’s bee population already rapidly declining, the hornets pose a very real threat. Recently, piles of bees with their heads ripped off are being reported by beekeepers.
Asian giant hornets are the largest in the world and can be over two inches long. Nicknamed “murder hornets”, the insects are equipped with a sting that experts at the Washington State University say can kill humans if stung multiple times.
Though these hornets can sometimes hitch a ride on international cargo, experts aren’t exactly sure how the Asian insects arrived in Washington state. Scientists say the hornets started becoming active last month, however, the first giant hornets were spotted in the state sometime in December.
According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the giant hornets target bees from July through October- between late summer and fall.
Traps have been set up by state officials and an app was also launched so that sightings could be reported immediately. Just a few of the hornets can decimate a beehive in a few hours.
It’s important that you report every sighting if there’s going to be “any hope of eradication” says entomologist Chris Looney of the state Department of Agriculture.
However, if you spot them, don’t take them out yourself. Stings from the giant hornets can penetrate a regular beekeeper’s suit. The counties of Whatcom, Skagit Island, San Juan, Jefferson, and Clallam are being asked to be especially vigilant.