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America Dealing With First Ever Outbreak Of 'Murder Hornets'

Stewart Perrie

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| Last updated 

America Dealing With First Ever Outbreak Of 'Murder Hornets'

Asian giant hornets, worryingly dubbed 'murder hornets', have invaded the United States for the first time.

The species is the world's largest hornet and usually calls Asia and parts of the Russian Far East home. But somehow, the terrifying insects have managed to travel across the Pacific Ocean.

Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get any worse.

Credit: Yasunori Koide (Creative Commons)
Credit: Yasunori Koide (Creative Commons)

The hornets have a body spanning 45mm, a wingspan of around around 75mm, and a stinger stretching 6mm. Their venom is extremely potent and has been described as 'like a hot nail being driven' into your skin.

They kill up to 50 people in Japan every year and are known to absolutely obliterate beehives, drink the honey, decapitate the bees and rip out their thoraxes to feed to their young.

In short, they sound goddamn terrifying.

The New York Times says the hornets have been discovered in Washington state and experts are now racing to work out if and where a colony exists.

Credit: Filippo Turetta (Creative Commons)
Credit: Filippo Turetta (Creative Commons)

Researchers are worried that if the population takes hold in North America, it could decimate the already declining bee population.

Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney told the NYT: "This is our window to keep it from establishing

"If we can't do it in the next couple of years, it probably can't be done."

In fact, experts are worried it could only be a matter of time before they make their way across America's mainland.

Manhattan beekeeper Andrew Cote told the New York Post: "[It] could be years before they make a foothold [on the East Coast] - or they could end up in the back of somebody's truck and be here in four days.

Credit: Justin (Flickr)
Credit: Justin (Flickr)

"We can expect them to be everywhere on the continent in time... It's a done deal. There's no way to contain it to the West Coast."

He's also described them as 'extraordinarily aggressive'.

Researchers have discovered two distinct colonies in Canada as well and many are trying to set traps to kill them off before they wreak havoc.

Entomologist Todd Murray said in a statement: "We need to teach people how to recognise and identify this hornet while populations are small, so that we can eradicate it while we still have a chance."

Researchers suggest it will be July or October before they could potentially start to kill off the colonies.

Featured Image Credit: Washington State Department of Agriculture

Topics: News, Animals

Stewart Perrie
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