Africanized honey bees, also known as “killer bees” entered the United States for the first time back in 1993. These bees first entered the state of Arizona or Texas through Mexico, and in just two short years, they spread to several neighboring states. Today, killer bees exist in much of the south and central US, but due to their inability to survive long periods of cold weather, it is unlikely that the bees will continue to spread further north in the country. During their spread across the US, thousands of people and tens of thousands of domestic animals were killed by these highly venomous bees.
Africanized honey bees first made their way north from South America after they escaped from a laboratory in Brazil during the 1950s. These escaped killer bees continued to spread north where they mated with native honey bee species in Mexico. Due to their gradual spread northward, Americans had long anticipated and feared the bees inevitable arrival in the US. Once the killer bees finally arrived in the US, several sensational news stories describing their deadly swarms began to instill fear in Americans. Many of these news stories described killer bees swarming and killing domestic pets. However, many researchers doubted the veracity of these stories, which prompted many research studies into the purported killer bee attacks on domestic animals. One particular study conducted in Tucson, Arizona found that the killer bee threat to domestic animals in the state had been exaggerated, as the death rate of domestic animals due to bee attacks only slightly increased after the introduction of killer bees in the state. Despite these findings, experts still insist that killer bees pose a threat to domestic animals in Arizona. For example, six animals were killed by killer bees in Arizona in 1998 alone. Researchers have also claimed that killer bee attacks on animals and humans will certainly increase as the city of Tucson continues to expand into the surrounding desert area. It is also worth noting that killer bees seem to prefer attacking certain animals over others, as 4.4 percent of all dog attacks by wildlife involved killer bees, while 10 percent of wildlife attacks on horses involved killer bees. Cats are statistically the safest group of domestic animals, as killer bees accounted for only 2.2 percent of wildlife attacks.
If you live in Arizona, or any desert region, do you worry about killer bees attacking either you or your pets?