Murder Hornets May Be Coming to Your State, Scientists Warn

While it's unclear how the Asian giant hornets arrived in the U.S., some speculate that they may have entered the country via international container ships, purchases from abroad, or with travelers.

If Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 horror classic “The Birds" were remade today, perhaps a title more reflective of our times might be "The Murder Hornets."  

According to scientists, these “giant insects” are coming to a state near you and establishing nests in places they are not supposed to be nesting. These flying killers apparently thrive in warm weather and scientists in the U.S. and in Canada are preparing for the next Asian giant hornet invasion (I mean season) in the summer and fall of 2021, CNN reported.

“This is not a species we want to tolerate here in the United States,” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, of the Washington state Department of Agriculture, which eradicated a nest of the Asian giant hornets last year, the Associated Press reported. “The Asian giant hornet is not supposed to be here.”

The giant insect, whose official name is Asian giant hornet, is a “mean-looking insect with a potent sting,” as the Smithsonian Institute describes them. Their queens can grow to be up to two-inches long and their quarter-inch stingers are so powerful that “they are capable of massacring entire honey bee hives in a matter of hours —decapitating thousands of the hive’s adult bees and fleeing with the helpless larvae to feed the hornets’ own brood.”

These murder hornets are not native to the U.S. and it is unclear how they got here, but some speculate that the hornets of Asian nativity may have arrived with international container ships, purchases shipped into the U.S, or travelers visiting or returning to the U.S., CNN reported.

The first U.S. sightings of the Asian giant hornet occurred in Washington state in 2019, and then in British Columbia in the fall. In 2020, after they emerged from hibernation, they hit the Pacific Northwest and Canada to build their nests and colonies.

The good news is that they aren’t a severe threat to humans. These hornets do sting, but it is rare for the sting to be deadly, a report said.

The bad news is that they are a massive threat to the agricultural sector, particularly since honey bees pollinate many of the crops in Washington’s multibillion-dollar agriculture industry. And, while they attack other insects too, they are not known to wipe out an entire population as they do with the honeybees, according to a report.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is collaborating with Washington State, British Columbia, and U.S. federal agencies to “track, trap and eradicate” any Asian giant hornets they find, ABC News reported.