Whew! Giant hornets no longer appear to be a threat


The year 2022 has one encouraging success story: The so-called “murder hornets” (Vespa mandarinia) don’t seem to be making inroads into the United States or Canada. 

In May, scientists set about 1,000 traps in areas of Washington state suspected of containing these insects. None of the traps revealed any specimens when examined at the end of November.

The appearance of the northern giant hornet (formerly known as the Asian giant hornet) in British Columbia and Washington caused considerable alarm from 2019 on. Found mainly in Asian countries, it is the largest species of hornet in the world at 2 inches long, with a 3-inch wingspan and a high-powered sting. 

Swarms of northern giant hornets can obliterate an entire nest of honeybees in a few hours. The hornet’s strong jaws decapitate bees in rapid fire, hence the nickname “murder hornet.” In their native lands, bees are able to thwart these hornet attacks by covering the intruders and causing fatal overheating. Bees in North America lack this defensive tactic, which was a concern to researchers.

Washington state officials in 2021 located and destroyed a nest of about 1,500. Three other nests near the U.S.-Canada border faced similar fates. It now appears these actions may have been enough to reverse the invasion. 

Researchers believe that the invasive specimens in North America are all descended from a single queen that arrived from China anywhere from 15 to 20 years ago. No one seems to know how it got here.

Remember: Hornets, wasps and bees are nothing to trifle with. If you have a dangerous nest on your property, don’t try to handle it yourself. Call the pest-control experts at Slug-A-Bug at (321) 259-7844.

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