“Murder hornets” or known by their official name as Asian giant hornets, are another menace the U.S. will have to deal in 2020.
The killer hornets started trending after an article from the New York Times revealed that the invasive species threatens to decimate the bee population as the weather gets warmer this coming summer and early fall.
Originally from East and South Asia, the invasive hornets earned their violent nickname from the species’ tendency to launch “aggressive group attacks [that] can expose victims to doses of toxic venom equivalent to that of a venomous snake,” according to Jun-ichi Takahashi, a researcher at Kyoto Sangyo University.
Too many stings can prove lethal — they are known to kill 50 people a year in Japan. Viral videos of a suspected Asian giant hornet attacking and killing a mouse have hit social media alongside the recent news.
An Asian giant hornet’s stinger can pierce through a beekeeper’s suit, in what Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist in Nanaimo, Canada described as “having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh.”
Also nicknamed “yak-killer hornets,” and “giant sparrow bees,” these little nightmares flew out of our dreams and into the U.S., but entomologists aren’t sure how they arrived in the other half of the world.
Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture told the Independent, “They may have been hibernating in a ship’s ballast or in a product that was transported from Asia to North America.”
Now, the race is on as entomologists like Dr. Looney are setting traps to locate and exterminate the demon nests before they settle.
“This is our window to keep it from establishing,” he said to the New York Times. “If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done.”