Hundreds of Asian giant hornets, an invasive, predatory insect dubbed the “Murder Hornet”, have turned up in Washington state near the Canadian border, where they pose a threat to humans and the beekeeping industry.
The stinging Vespa mandarinia can grow as large as 6.35 cm in length and is native to Southeast Asia, China and Taiwan.
It was first discovered in Blaine, Washington, in December by a homeowner, according to Sven-Erik Spichiger, managing entomologist at the Washington state Agriculture Department.
“An Asian giant hornet can sting you multiple times and deliver larger doses of venom just because of the size of them. The venom itself is fairly toxic and creates localized necrosis around the wound so you’ll see melting flesh around the wound,” Spichiger told Reuters.
“What we’re told from the literature is that most people can survive one or two stings,” he said.
“But if you sustain multiple stings, the necrosis and the venom will actually start getting into your bloodstream and will start working on your organs. And multiple stings could literally be fatal.”
Aside from the danger to humans, the Murder Hornet presents a danger to agriculture and the apiary industry, Spichiger said, because the insect is known to attack honey bees, with a few of the hornets capable of wiping out an entire hive in hours.
Scientists don’t know for sure how the Murder Hornet made its way to Blaine.
The most likely scenario is that it arrived on a container ship docking at one of Washington’s ports.
Intentional transport of the killer bug into the United States would violate federal law.