Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get worse…
Asian giant hornets have been spotted in the United States and Canada for the first time, sparking panic among members of the scientific community.
The large insects, nicknamed ‘murder hornets’, are native to temperate and tropical climates in East Asia, where they kill around 50 people are year.
But since November 2019, there have been several sightings of the hornets on the west coast of North America. It’s unclear how they arrived.
The new invasive species is 1.5-2 inches long, has a large yellow scary head, and a powerful sting.
The large stinger is filled with venom that contains neurotoxin, which is capable of causing both cardiac arrest and anaphylactic shock.
Asian giant hornets are primarily a threat to honeybees and can decimate entire beehives in just hours.
However, they may also sting humans if they or their ground nests are disturbed or threatened.
Beekeeper Conrad Bérubé told the NYT he was recently attacked by a swarm of the ‘murder hornets’ on Vancouver Island.
‘It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh,‘ Bérubé stated, adding that he was feeling lucky to be alive after being stung seven times during the attack.
But while the hornets can be deadly to humans, entomologists are more concerned that they could kill of bee populations in North America that are also facing their pandemic.
Now, entomologists are ’embarking on a full-scale hunt for the hornets’, before they breed and become widely established in North America.
But the task will be difficult, given the hornets can fly more than 20 miles an hour.
The health department says humans should take preventative measures by covering food and garbage and also avoid swatting at the hornets.