May 7, 2020
 in 
Nature

Giant ‘Murder’ Hornet Reaches North America

 BY 
Matthew Mann
I

f 2020 hasn’t been bad enough already, the Giant ‘Murder’ Hornet has just made it to North America.

The New York Times recently published an anecdote accounting one of the first sightings of the honey bee killers. During a regular check of his bee colonies in late last year, Ted McFall of Blaine Washington found a mass of bee carcasses on the ground. The further he investigated, the worse it got. Inside the colonies laid thousands of bees with their heads separated from their bodies, a classic indication of the giant hornet. No evidence of a guilty party was apparent. Ted McFall was left astonished.

“I COULDN’T WRAP MY HEAD AROUND WHAT COULD HAVE DONE THAT”

Just weeks after Mr. McFalls encountered the genocide of his bee hives, a gentleman named Jeff Kornelis was faced with a similar question. Upon stepping outside onto his porch, he noticed something out of the ordinary.

Giant Hornet – Devon Henderson of Addicted2Hymenoptera  via Flickr: antbbx

“IT WAS THE BIGGEST HORNET I’D EVER SEEN”

It wasn’t until the specimen found on the porch was identified as a Giant Asian Hornet by Washington State, that Ted McFalls realized who that culprit was in his case. Although there were only a few of the hornets discovered in the United States, it is difficult to determine how many others had claimed North America as their new home.

Canada’s Hornet Immigration

Being that Washington State is one of Canada’s neighbors, it is not a surprise that one of the Giant Hornets made its way north. Prior to the sighting in the United States, it was reported that some of the hornets were spotted in Nanaimo, BC during the spring of 2019. The nest was said to be destroyed but uncertainty surrounded the new populations of the hornets. Although the Giant Hornet has a very powerful sting as well as the ability to massacre mass amounts of honey bees, Canadians can rest easy. Sheila Colla, a professor of biology at York University has stated that the hornets are unlikely to spread throughout Canada due to climate.

Native to Eastern Asia

The Asian Giant Hornet is native to Japan and other parts of eastern Asian and Russia that have temperate climates. They prefer heavily wooded environments that usually have mountainous landscapes; which provide numerous nesting options as well as foraging habitat. It’s no wonder they have been found on the west coast of North America thriving in similar habitat.

The hornet queens can reach an amazing 2.5 inches long, have skin-piercing mandibles, and a 4.5 mm stinger. By listening to the hornet description leaves no uncertainty as to how it was able to decapitate the mass of bees at Mr. McFalls colonies. Its effect on humans is also no laughable matter. Although the mandibles may not damage human skin incredibly, its venomous sting has proven to be quite lethal. To watch the Giant ‘Murder’ Hornet in action, watch the Brave Wilderness video below.