The Asian giant hornet resurfaces in the Pacific Northwest

Image of Asian giant hornet on man's jacket.

(New York Times) The Asian giant hornet has resurfaced in the Pacific Northwest, with two reported discoveries that indicate the invasive insect has already been circulating in a broader territory than previously known. On the U.S. side of the border, state entomologists received a report this week of a dead hornet on a roadway near Custer, Wash. Several miles north in Canada, a provincial apiculturist for British Columbia confirmed that one of the large hornets had been discovered in the city of Langley this month.

Murder hornets invade headlines, not the US

Close up image of Asian giant hornet.

(University of California, Riverside) Though “murder hornets” are dominating recent headlines, there are no Asian giant hornets currently known to be living in the U.S. or Canada, according to UC Riverside Entomology Research Museum Senior Scientist Doug Yanega. “There have not been any sightings in 2020 that would suggest the eradication attempt was unsuccessful.”

In Japan, the ‘murder hornet’ is both a lethal threat and a tasty treat

Image of collection of murder hornets.

(New York Times) Long before the Asian giant hornet began terrorizing the honeybees of Washington State, the ferocious insects posed a sometimes lethal threat to hikers and farmers in the mountains of rural Japan. But in the central Chubu region, these insects — sometimes called “murder hornets” — are known for more than their aggression and excruciating sting. They are seen as a pleasant snack and an invigorating ingredient in drinks.

Murder hornets vs. honey bees: A swarm of bees can cook invaders alive

Image of two dead Asian giant hornets on notepad.

(New York Times) When a hornet enters the hive of Japanese honey bees, hundreds of bees can respond by forming a ball around the hornet. The bees work together and vibrate to produce heat, raising the temperature in the formation to over 115 degrees, cooking the hornet to a temperature it cannot survive. “The honeybee in Japan has adapted with this predator and learned through generations to protect themselves. Our honeybees, the predator has never been there before, so they have no defense.”

‘Murder hornets’ in the US: The rush to stop the Asian giant hornet

Image of Asian giant hornet on man's coat.

(New York Times) Sightings of the Asian giant hornet have prompted fears that the vicious insect could establish itself in the United States and devastate bee populations. 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.

WSU scientists enlist citizens in hunt for giant, bee-killing hornet

Image of Asian giant hornet.

(Washington State University) In the first-ever sightings in the U.S., the Washington State Department of Agriculture verified two reports and received two unconfirmed reports of the Asian giant hornet late last year. WSDA scientists are now working with WSU researchers, beekeepers and citizens to find, trap and eradicate the pest. At home in the forests and low mountains of eastern and southeast Asia, the hornet feeds on large insects, including native wasps and bees. In Japan, it devastates the European honey bee, which has no effective defense.

What is the Asian hornet invasion going to cost Europe?

Map showing spread of Asian hornet.

(EurekAlert/Pensoft Publishers) Since its accidental introduction in 2003 in France, the yellow-legged Asian hornet is rapidly spreading through Europe. Within its native and invasive range, the hornet actively preys on honeybees. Due to its active praying on wild insects, the Asian hornet also has a negative impact on ecosystems in general and contributes to the global decline of pollination services and honey production. In a recent study, French scientists tried to evaluate the first estimated control costs for this invasion.