After much searching, researchers have found the first “murder horn” home in the United States and provided a glimpse of what’s inside. During the home scattering, the team found 500 hornets at various stages of development, including about 200 queens. This is especially worrying since each of these queens could potentially make a new home.
Officially known as the Asian Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia), the so-called murderous hornets are invasive insects and not native to America. This year, there have been several reports of invasive species in Washington State, raising fears that invaders could reduce the number of bees and other native bees.
To better understand the problem, researchers from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) on October 29 studied a chicken meticulously. Inside, they discovered about 495 live specimens, including 6 raw eggs, 190 larvae, and 112 workers, 9 drones, and 76 live queens. They also found more than 100 closed capped cells, including more queen pupae, bringing the total number of queens in this chicken to less than 200.
Rather worryingly, there will probably be all-new virgin queens except one of these queens, who will nest, mate, hibernate and reproduce in the spring. “It really looks like we got there just in time,” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, an ecologist who led the fight to kill the Hornets for the WSDA at a news conference.
“Only a small percentage of these queens will make colonies next year if they were given a chance to escape,” he added. The species is native to the forests and low mountains of East and Southeast Asia. Measuring about 5 centimeters (2 inches) tall, the Asian giant hornets are the largest species of hornets, with an orange-flavored and lime-striped belly. These are known to be a significant predator of beehives and perishable bees. “Hornets enter a ‘slaughter stage ’where they snatch and kill bees. They then take brood to feed their own babies and save the chickens as their own,” according to the WSDA.
They can also create risks for people. The venom of the species contains a powerful neurotoxin that can pack an average punch, often causing a large, grooved, and painful sting. Even if you don’t have allergies, multiple stings can kill a person. It is estimated that about 30 to 50 people are killed each year in Japan, with most victims dying from anaphylaxis, sudden heart attacks, or multiple organ failure.