Science

All you need to know about the ‘murder hornet’ recently spotted in the US

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on May 06, 2020 Published on May 06, 2020

Asian giant hornet   -  Via Reuters

Officials have recently discovered an invasive, predatory insect nicknamed he "murder hornet” in Washington state near the Canadian border.

The hornets could potentially pose a threat to humans, the Washington State Agricultural Department had said according to a Reuters report.

The first sighting of the murder hornet was reported in Blaine, Washington back in December by a homeowner as per Sven-Erik Spichiger, managing entomologist at the Washington state Agriculture Department, the report said.

The murder hornet’s original name is Vespa Mandarinia. This particular species, dubbed the Asian hornet is native to Southeast Asia, China and Taiwan.

The stinging hornet can grow as large as 2-1/2 inches or 6.4 cm in length. The insects have a large orange/yellow head with big round eyes. The Asian hornets have a black and yellow striped abdomen.

According to Spichiger the Asian giant hornet can prove to be fatal. It can sting a person multiple times delivering larger doses of venom as it is huge in size. A person can survive one or two stings on an average. As the venom itself is fairly toxic, multiple stings can prove to be fatal.

According to a New York Times report, 50 people on an average die within a year due to the Asian hornet. According to National Geographic, these deaths are often caused by kidney damage owing to the venom.

The murder hornets are also a major threat to agriculture as they target bees. The dwindling bee population which is already at risk helps in pollination, an extremely crucial process. Murder hornets attack honey bees and are also capable of wiping out an entire hive in hours.

The insects usually form large colonies and nest in the ground. Though there have been hundreds of reports of sightings, officials have only confirmed two sightings of the murder hornet in the state.

However, the suggests that there is likely to be a colony of murder hornets nearby according to the National Geographic. The insects go dormant in winter. If any queens have mated, the hornets would disperse to form new hives.

Researchers are currently trying to lure and capture emerging queens. They will also try heat mapping to identify hornet nests in the ground to prevent future damage.

There is no information as to how these species arrived in the US. Some speculate that the insect must have made its way to Blaine on a container ship docking at one of Washington’s ports. The Intentional transport of the hornet is illegal according to the US federal law.

Published on May 06, 2020

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