BY HAILEY CHAPMAN
A deadly threat to beekeepers across the United States comes with the discovery of Asia’s “murder hornet” found in Washington. Scientists are not sure of their origin thus far, but they do warn of their threat to American agriculture,
The hornets measure up to 2 inches and are extremely lethal as they can kill an entire colony of bees within hours. They do so by using their large mandibles to decapitate hundreds of bees at a time. Even in comparison to the burly bumblebee, the Asian hornet is dominant in its size over other predatory pests.
Ted McFall, a beekeeper in Washington, said in his numerous years of experience, he had never seen anything like the mass destruction caused by the hornets.
While McFall is not certain the pests caused the demise of his beehives, the first sightings were only a few miles north of his property.
According to the Bellingham Herald in Washington, the hornets have already devastated beekeepers — with four reports in Blaine and Bellingham starting in December.
The hornets have a distinct shape, including large teardrop-shaped eyes, orange and black stripes, and wide dragonfly-like wings, according to the New York Times.
Entomologist Chris Looney said it is the perfect time to close the window on the bees’ potential spread. According to Looney, if its population cannot be contained now, it probably can not be accomplished at all.
Along with the threat to beekeepers, the fatal pests have caused approximately 50 deaths in Japan.
The New York Times reports the sting of the Asian Hornet is described as “having red hot thumbtacks driven into your flesh,” so while they are not always lethal to humans, the pests are proven to provide a painful sting that can be accompanied by medical complications.
Multiple stings, however, can prove fatal to humans, so it is important for all to be aware of their surroundings.