Written by Alexander Vancel
Reports of attacks by Asian Giant Hornets have surged recently in the Shaanxi province, China. Currently, there have been 41 confirmed deaths and over 1,600 more people injured as a result of these insects stinging their victims.
Asian Giant Hornet vs. Honeybee
The Asian Giant Hornet can grow to be five centimeters long or more, which is why they are the largest species of hornet in the world. These insects are a force to be reckoned with because they are known for their aggression. Their favorite meal is typically honeybees, but they also eat wasps, preying mantises and other large insects.
Not only is the Asian Giant Hornet equipped with a stinger that is about one-fourth of an inch long, but their sting is venomous. Their venom is composed of eight different chemicals, which cause complications with breathing, skin degeneration, anaphylactic shock and even renal failure.
Pheromones injected by their stinger informs the rest of the hornets to sting you until you are able to get away. Good luck trying to outrun these giants; Estimations put their top speed at 25 mph, and they have been known to travel sixty miles when chasing their dinner. Victims can be stung multiple times due to the fact that their stingers do not have a barb and remain attached.
If you’re in the U.S., you might be thinking “at least they are half-way around the world,” but reports have indicated that these deadly insects have been spotted in Arlington Heights, Ill. Some people might have mistaken Asian Giant Hornets for Cicada Killer Wasps because they are not native to the U.S.
In this blog, a beekeeper describes his encounter with one of these honeybee killers in his home. The keeper described the buzzing sound of the Asian Giant Hornet to be “earth-shatteringly” louder than your average honeybee.
The method used by these insects to hunt for food resembles a military movement. Scouts are sent out to locate potential prey, and when they find it they mark it with a pheromone and return to their nest. When they return, they bring along thirty Asian Giant Hornets and begin their attack. It only takes this group of hornets three hours or so to kill a hive of about 30,000 honeybees, and their intent is to find the larvae in the nest. They then bring back the larvae to their own nest to feed themselves and the rest of the hive.
Since 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real, the warmer fall and winter months have recently allowed these insects to dramatically increase their population number. It is believed that these giants are invading areas populated with humans because of rising temperatures as well as deforestation. They are migrating from their native habitat into cities, which means that the chances are greater that the numbers of attacks will increase.
Humans are the only predator for the Asian Giant Hornet, which are the apex predator in their native habitat. Some people actually consider these insects to be part of their daily diet. In Asia, people who share the same habitat as the hornets will actually catch and deep fry them. The combination of humans using these insects as a food source and deforestation means that the Asian Giant Hornet could be threatened with extinction as humans continue to remove their natural habitat.
These hornets have keen senses; They can smell human sweat and perfume, and they are sensitive to bright colors. While there is a concern about their diminishing population, don’t forget they they are dangerous to humans. Their natural enemies have diminished due to the changes in their ecosystem allowing the hornet population to increase. The months of September and October are their mating season which means they are more likely to show aggression during this time. The areas which have seen more frequent attacks from Asian Giant Hornets are the cities of Shangluo, Ankang and Hanzhong.
This post was originally published in The Allegiant
Post Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Article Photo Credits: The Allegiant