Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
If 2020 couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start, now 5 months in we have to worry about giant hornets with a venomous sting (known as “murder hornets”) invading North America. As WGN9 reported, “for the first time, Asian giant hornets have been spotted in the United States, specifically in Washington state, scientists say. Beekeepers have reported piles of dead bees with their heads ripped off, an alarming sight in a country with a rapidly declining bee population.”
Why This Matters: North America is experiencing continued collapses of honeybee and native bee colonies and the introduction of an aggressive new predator could be a disaster for these pollinators. Honeybees have no defense to the hornets and thus just a few hornets can devastate a hive.
The New York Times reported that “scientists have since embarked on a full-scale hunt for the hornets, worried that the invaders could decimate bee populations in the United States and establish such a deep presence that all hope for eradication could be lost.” The hope is to identify and eliminate hornet hives before they get the chance to spread.
Deadly Stats: As the New York Times explained, with queens that can grow to two inches long, Asian giant hornets can use mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins to wipe out a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the bees and flying away with the thoraxes to feed their young.
For larger targets, the hornet’s potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened to hot metal driving into their skin.
In Japan, the hornets kill up to 50 people a year.
Take a look at how the Asian hornets operate and what makes them so dangerous to pollinators:
A Threat to Humans?: As Bruce Y. Lee wrote for Forbes, “The murder hornets are probably not an immediate threat to health in 2020. Currently, there aren’t enough of them around. And they don’t seem to seek out humans to sting them like in some horror movie.” But if the hornets decimate pollinator colonies then that could be an imminent threat to agriculture.
BUT: Hornets are a formidable threat and we have some historical context to make us take this invasion seriously. As AgWeb explained, “in 2004, Yellow-legged hornet arrived in France, possibly within potted plants imported from China, and has spread quickly across several European countries, reaching Spain in 2010, Belgium in 2011, Germany in 2014, and the United Kingdom in 2016. Expansion rates indicate the Yellow-legged hornet moved across France at a rough rate of 35-50 miles per year.”
If You Spot a Hive: Firstly don’t approach the hive. Take note of where you saw it, run away, and then contact local officials. In Washington State, state officials set up traps and launched an app to quickly report sightings.
Murder Hornets, but with the right lawyer, Manslaughter Bees
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer As the world warms, it’s not just people who are feeling the heat. Bats are also susceptible to extreme heat, and overheated bat boxes can be “a death trap,” the Guardian reports. In the wild, bats move between rock and tree crevices in search of a perfectly moderated temperature. […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new report entitled The World’s Forgotten Fishes from the World Wildlife Fund has found that there has been a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of all freshwater fish species coming perilously close to extinction. The statistics paint a sobering picture: 26% of all critically […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Move over Dolly, there’s a new clone in town and her name is Elizabeth Ann the Black-Footed ferret. You read that right; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on Thursday that it had successfully cloned the first U.S. endangered species. Elizabeth Ann was born on December 10, […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.