Officials in China have warned people to steer clear of fields and wooded areas for the rest of the year, as killer hornets have been terrorizing the Chinese countryside.
Thus far, approximately 600 people have been injured and 28 people have died due to attacks from swarms of killer hornets. The ring leader of the packs seems to be the Vespa mandarinia, or Asian giant hornet (also sometimes called the yak-killer hornet – I’m assuming that it can kill a yak with its sting, which is terrifying). The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest hornet, measuring in at 2 inches long and having a stinger that measure 0.25 inches.
When an Asian giant hornet stings someone, it releases a neurotoxin that feels “like a hot nail through my leg,” according to Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University. Not only do these bastards have the ability to kill a person with their sting, they are predatory, mainly hunting other large insects, such as bees, other hornets, and mantises. One Asian giant hornet alone can kill 40 honeybees per minute, using its mandibles to rip off the bees’ heads.
Experts have linked the increase number of attacks to the weather – warmer weather cycles leads to increased breeding for the hornets. Another factor leading to the increased amount of attacks could be that as China’s population continues to expand, rural laborers are pushed further into the worlds, cohabiting with the natural residences of the hornets. Unfortunately for human beings, these hornets are especially sensitive to food and cosmetic scents.
A director of the Ankang Disease Control Center stated that “Patients with more than 10 hornet stings should seek medical attention. Those with more than 30 stings need immediate emergency treatment.” Because the majority of the population affected by the hornet attacks are poor, rural farmers, the Chinese government has promised to help patients pay for their medical bills.
Part of me wishes that these hornets were the reason for the huge amounts of disappearing honeybees. At least then we would get to declare war against these monstrosities, and we wouldn’t have to worry about the impending agricultural doom that will be wrought once the bees have died out.
Image via Wikimedia Commons