Murder Hornets

Dubbed murder hornets, Asian Giant Hornets are poised to impact struggling North American bee populations. Entomologists suspect winter hibernating Asian behemoths arrived as undetected cargo ship stowaways. These alarmingly large (queens grow over 5 cm, minions 3.5 cm ) behemoths invade bee hives, decapitating prey and flying off with thoraxes to feed their young – beehives wiped out in a matter of hours.  Not quite Starship Troopers, but close enough if you’re a honeybee.

A dead Asian giant

Dead Asian Giant Hornet courtesy Washington State Dept. of Agriculture

First discovered in British Columbia, August 2019, the following month Vancouver Island beekeepers eradicated a large giant hornet nest. They’ve been spotted in Washington State and White Rock, B.C. In March 2020 officials in British Columbia issued a public alert – do not approach, but report sightings immediately.

“This is our window to keep it from establishing,” Chris Looney, a Washington State entomologist, said of the two-inch Asian giant hornet. He displayed a dead hornet on his jacket.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

While not generally interested in people, pets or livestock, you wouldn’t want to piss them off.  Stings from their particularly long stinger capable of penetrating a beekeepers suit is described as excruciating.