Murder hornets "decapitate" bees, UT expert says not to panic

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Beekeepers, researchers work to combat Asia’s ‘murder hornet,’ spotted in US for first time

While the news is only breaking now, the Asian giant hornets were actually spotted in the U.S.in December of a year ago, in Washington State.

As if all that wasn't enough, we now have to deal with the appearance of the Asian giant hornet, also known by its much more appropriate name, "murder hornet".

In comparison to honeybees, Planakis admits the sting can be very painful, but unlike bees that can only sting once, the hornets are capable of stinging someone multiple times. Its sting can penetrate a regular beekeeper's suit, and state scientists had to order special reinforced suits.

"The most likely time to catch Asian giant hornets is from July through October - when colonies are established and workers are out foraging", Washington State Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

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While Japanese honey bees have defenses against this predation, including surrounding a hornet and vibrating their bodies to produce heat that kills the invader, honey bee species in the USA have no effective way to fend them off.

"It's a shockingly large hornet", added Todd Murray, a specialist in invasive species at the university.

The hornets made their first North American appearance in August 2019, in British Columbia, Canada. State entomologist Chris Looney told The Bellingham Herald that anyone who comes across the hornets should remain calm, but nevertheless keep their distance. "The hornets enter a "slaughter phase" where they kill bees by decapitating them", the WSDA said. In Japan, it has devastated European honeybees, which have no effective defense.

Asian giant hornets can use shark-fin shaped appendages to destroy a beehive, decapitating its victims in a matter of minutes. The website now has photos and information about various types of hornets and wasps to help people to distinguish what type of insect they see, but they say when in doubt, please report.

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Amid a pandemic, it seems unfair to have nature inflict another curveball on the Earth - in this case, an invasive killer hornet species called the Asian Giant Hornet, which can be deadly to humans. Up to two inches long, that's about five times the size of the average honey bee. There have been two additional unconfirmed reports of murder hornets near Custer, Washington. "In 2013, when populations of the hornets were unusually high, they killed 42 people in a single Chinese province". The hornet is responsible for killing as many as 50 people a year in Japan.

The hornets are also bad news for native honey bees.

The hornets, which are over two inches long, were first spotted in the state in December a year ago, and generally become active in the spring, researchers from Washington State University said in a post published in early April.

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