The Asian Giant Hornet – Let’s Hope this Killer Never Finds It’s Way to America
By working here at Loyal Termite and Pest Control I am constantly learning new things about the insect and bug world. If you recall, my last blog was about an insect that I had never seen or heard of before. A friend that lives in Deltaville sent me a picture of a very large nasty looking bug that was identified by one of our technicians as a “Wheel Bug”. It turns out that the 21/2” long Wheel Bug is capable of giving a painful bite and is also in the “kissing bug” class. Bugs in this class prefer to have a blood meal (just like a bed bug) rather than consume other insects; it’s other food of choice. Needless to say, my friend appreciated my identifying the Wheel Bug and advising her to stay away from this dangerous bug at all costs.
This morning I was looking in the Professional Pest Management Association (PPMA) website and was surprised to read and learn about another bug that has actually been attacking and killing people in Japan and China. The recent death toll in what experts are calling ground zero, in the outskirts of An Kang, China is 42 and counting, and the number injured is in excess of 1,600! Officials in An Kang say the actual number of dead and injured is much higher. This aggressive killer is the Asian Hornet or the Giant Asian Hornet (pictured above) as the larger species is known.
“These hornets have been killing people for some time, said an official who requested anonymity, “This year, just in this district more than 20 people have been killed. The number should be much higher than that. The number is shocking.” The Asian Hornet, or Vespa Mandarina, can grow to be thumb-sized. It is capable of flying at speeds of up to 25 mph and a distance of 50 miles. Their stingers carry a lethal mix of foreign protein and when mixed in the human bloodstream can cause sepsis. Without proper treatment, such as dialysis, a victim will die.
The insect’s existence in An Kang is not new. Nor is this the first time humans have been attacked. For years the Asian Hornet has lived among inhabitants here and elsewhere across East Asia. Parts of Japan, in particular, have been home to significant populations for years. But they have never attacked as they are attacking now. Many believe a disruption in the ecosystem of the forest has contributed to the outbreak of hornet attacks.
“Years ago”, a local said, If you didn’t bother them, they would not bother you.”
There is no concrete explanation for why the Hornets are attacking with such ferocity this year. Experts point to urban sprawl as one reason the hornet’s natural habitat has been compromised. Hives are now commonly found underground or in buildings. Left alone, the Hornets typically don’t attack humans. But as humans and hornets live in increasing proximity of one another inadvertent disturbance can ignite a vicious response.
Emergency teams are working nest to nest in an attempt to destroy as many as possible, but there is no guarantee. This year, in particular, a mild winter and several months of hot weather may be behind the increased population.
The Asian Hornet is decimating the livelihood of honey beekeepers. The hornet feeds on the larva and pupa stages of the honey bee. In order to satisfy their ferocious appetite, large numbers of Asian Hornets will attack honey bees at their hive in a violent fashion, chewing their victims’ flesh into a powerful substance that boosts the hornet’s strength. They will annihilate over 30,000 bees in less than 3 hours; severing the bee’s heads off at a rapid-fire rate The result; the honey bee hive will be totally destroyed.
Officials hope the attacks drop by the end of the month and cease completely by December when the hornets retreat for the winter. But next spring Queen Hornets will welcome thousands of new offspring.
Let’s all hope this ferocious killer never finds his way to America.