For more than two months Americans in all areas of the country have been quarantined in their home in an effort to curb the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus. Just when it seemed safe to leave our homes and indulge in much needed mingling, swarms of deadly and exotic winged insects were spotted for the first time in the US. This fierce insect species is officially known as Vespa mandarinia, but it has become commonly, and aptly known as the “murder hornet.”
At the moment, murder hornets remain in the Pacific Northwest, but many Americans fear that these hornets will rapidly spread throughout the country and perpetrate mass stinging incidents similar to those that have resulted in countless deaths in east and southeast Asia. In only a three month period during 2013, murder hornets descended on large crowds in three cities in China where they inflicted numerous stings to helpless pedestrians, killing 42, and injuring well over 1,500. In Japan, murder hornet envenomation incidents result in 30 to 50 deaths annually, and these deadly insects are known for chasing their human targets over distances longer than 200 feet.
According to University of Arizona assistant professor Katy Prudic, it is hard to determine whether murder hornets will establish an invasive habitat in Arizona, but it should be noted that experts have yet to find evidence that these hornets are capable of establishing permanent colonies in the northwest, or in any part of North America. Currently, the murder hornets in the northwest are demonstrating unusual behaviors, such as becoming active in December rather than April when they are known to emerge in Asia. It is hard to know whether this unheard of behavior is a good or bad thing for the hornet’s future in the country, but constant surveillance is necessary to keep these winged monsters from wiping out common honey bee populations, which are already decreasing in the US, and around the world.
Are you concerned about the possibility of murder hornets establishing permanent colonies in Arizona?