28 people have been killed, and hundreds seriously injured by hornets in China. The attacks have become so deadly and common that Chinese officials have warned citizens to avoid walking through fields and wooded areas.
The Asian giant hornet is believed to be the species responsible for the deadly attacks. They have been known to kill large mammals, earning themselves the name yak-killer hornets. They can grow to be more than 2 inches long and have a quarter-inch-long stinger that is full of venom containing neurotoxins. These hornets are the largest species in the world and feed on other insects that are twice their size.
Most of the deadly hornet attacks have happened in Shaanxi province where once victim was treated for renal failure after being stung by a group of hornets. Several other people claim to have been chased and stung several times by hornets. One woman even claims she was stung more than 200 times.
“Patients with more than 10 hornet stings should seek medical attention. Those with more than 30 stings need immediate emergency treatment,” said a director of Ankang Disease Control Centre .
Hornets are common in China, especially during the fall. Every year the hospitals set up special units to deal with hornet stings an allergic reactions. The Ankang fire department claims to have already removed over 300 hornet nests and is working to remove more in hopes of reducing the amount of attacks and hospitalizations that result from them.
The reason for the increased number of attacks this year is likely due to the recent hot weather which has motivated the hornets to breed. As farmers and laborers begin to work outside in fields, they are more likely to come closer to hornet nests and homes, leading to more attack. Officials have suggested that everyone be aware of their surrounding and on the lookout for hornet nests anytime they are outdoors.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.