Murder hornets (Vespa mandarinia), commonly known as Asian giant hornets, are the world's biggest wasps.

These hornets are native to Asia, but international trading unintentionally brought them to North America, where they threaten local animals by killing other insects such as wasps and bees.

US Invasion: The Incursion of the 'Murder Hornet' in the Western Region
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

According to the Natural History Museum in London, "murder hornet" is commonly used online. However, it may be a sensationalist title.

These hornets don't actively chase humans, but they may kill them with powerful stings if they feel threatened, especially if they are allergic to their venom.

Related Article: Asian Hornet Invasion: First "Murder Hornet" of 2021 Discovered in Washington State

Giant Hornets

Murder hornets may reach a length of 2 inches (5.1 cm), which is roughly the same as a human thumb. Their heads are bright or orange, which contrasts with their typically dark brown or black thoraxes, which run between their heads and abdomens.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), their big abdomens exhibit alternating dark brown or black and yellow or orange. The stingers of murder hornets are around 0.2 inches (6 millimeters) in length.

According to the University of Michigan's Animal Diversity Web, murder hornets are omnivores who consume a variety of insects, notably beetles, as well as tree sap and fruit (ADW). Hornets hunt in groups, but they are most known for their coordinated "slaughter" assaults on beehives, in which several hornets attack a colony of much smaller bees. During these attacks, up to 20 or more hornets shred apart the bees protecting the hive with their mandibles before infiltrating and destroying the rest of the colony.

Bee Killing Rampage

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(Photo : Photo by Bianca Ackermann on Unsplash)

During a "slaughter" assault, murder hornets can kill up to 30,000 bees in a colony. After the majority of the adult bees have died, the hornets concentrate on the larvae and pupae, which are the bees' latent phase between larvae and adults.

According to the University of Florida, murder hornets kidnap bee larvae and pupae and carry them back to their nest to feed to their larvae.

Although honeybee stings cannot pierce the thick outer skin of hornets, Japanese honeybees (Apis cerana japonica) have devised a technique to protect their hives against hornet assaults. First, a swarm of bees swarms an invading hornet and traps it in a tight ball of their bodies.

According to a previous article from Live Science, they then vibrate their bodies together to heat the ball to around 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius), which is hot enough to kill the hornet inside but not hot enough to kill the bees.

Unfortunately, bees that don't live in the murder hornet's natural range, such as North American native yellow bumblebees (Bombus fervidus) and European honeybees (Apis mellifera) - which aren't native to North America but help pollinate crops - didn't evolve alongside the ferocious giant hornets and didn't have strategies to defend themselves.mAs a result, the invading hornets pose a greater threat to them.

Invading North America

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(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Murder hornets were first discovered in North America in August 2019 on Vancouver Island, Canada. According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), the hornets were confirmed to be in the United States in December 2019, when the WSDA validated two hornet complaints near Blaine, Washington.

Entomologists tracked down and destroyed the first murder hornet nest in Blaine 11 months later by attaching radio trackers to live hornets they had captured and followed them back to their nest, as previously reported by Live Science.

In the years 2020 and 2021, more murder hornets were recorded in Washington and Canada. However, according to the WSDA, one dead hornet located in Marysville, Washington, in June 2021 looked unconnected to any of the previously identified hornets and so was from a different introduction.

Also Read: Scientist Claims That Wasps Aren't Just Pointless Creatures

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