Murder hornets are real

Giant Asian hornets, Vespa mandarinia, are huge insects that pack a powerful sting and lethal venom. They are the world's largest hornet, growing up to two inches long and are native to Asia and parts of Russia. It is thought that they arrived in North America in imported agricultural products, however that is just speculation. Never mind how they got here, the threat is real. The venom is so deadly that up to 50 deaths a year have been attributed to them in Japan. They can wound multiple times with a huge stinger that will draw blood, are aggressive when disturbed and have pincer-like mandibles that more resemble a sizable beetle than a wasp or hornet. On top of all of our other worries, they are especially attracted to our vulnerable honeybee population. Sounds like a 1950's horror movie, doesn't it?

Giant Asian hornets have arrived in North America

These hornets were first noticed in Washington state and nearby Vancouver, Canada in late 2019. A few solitary individuals were noted and one honeybee colony was completely wiped out. One of these killer hornets can decapitate up to 40 honeybees with its massive jaws in a minute or less and several of them can lay waste to the hive in a very short time. They bite the heads off the adults, strip the hive of the eggs and larvae and haul all of it back to their own nest to feed their young. Concern for our fragile honeybees is growing, because if the hornet colonies increase and spread throughout North America, our food supply is in danger. It is speculated that every third bite of food is directly connected to our pollinator population, so this is serious.

Native species coexist

Japanese honeybees do not have this problem. They have developed a security mechanism that allows the worker bees to alert to the scent of the killer hornet scout, surround the lone hornet and cover it with a ball of their bodies, raise the temperature and lower the available oxygen and suffocate it. The scout never returns to its own hive to spread the news. The European honeybees, which are our honeybees, have not developed this defense. This is why a non-native, invasive species can eradicate native species so quickly and remain pretty much harmless in their home territory. It is thought that invasive species are responsible for about 2/3 of all modern day extinctions. That is why it is so important to keep these killer hornets from gaining a foothold on this continent. Nothing is prepared to defend against them.

Invasive Asian carp are a real problem in North America

We have a similar problem here in western Kentucky. My state is home to two of the world's largest man-made fresh-water lakes, created when the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers were dammed. The whole region depends on tourism and sportsmen who come from around the world to enjoy our scenic backyard. It is a fisherman's paradise. Several years ago, three species of Asian carp managed to gain a foothold in our beautiful waterways. They have no natural predators and each adult female can produce over a million eggs annually. They compete with our native fish for resources and reproduce at such a terrifying rate, our lakes are having huge problems. The main trouble is, how do you remove millions of fish from a lake system that contains nearly 218,000 acres of surface water. It is about like herding cats. There is no way fishermen can keep up with the population explosion using the traditional hook and line. On top of the invasive fish reducing the population of our native game fish, these carp have the dangerous habit of jumping out of the water when disturbed. One fish wouldn't be so bad, however they travel in massive schools. If a water skier runs into a school of these carp and they all start jumping out of the water at once, it proves quite dangerous. Small pleasure craft are also in harm's way with the jumping fish.

Asian carp jumping out of water

Controlling invasive species is a troubling problem

This is an example of what happens when an invasive species reproduces out of control. If the murder hornets aren't contained while they are here in relatively small numbers, we could see these monsters cropping up everywhere. Once the population exceeds our ability to control it, the murder hornets could cause more problems than our fish. And the fish are costing our area and other waterways across the country massive amounts of money. We call it the War On Carp and there are many researchers trying to find ways to control them, however Pandora's Box has already opened and we're struggling just to keep up. We've had some measure of success with using electricity to stun schools of fish and when they float to the surface, net them in before they revive. Commercial fishermen are taking about 80,000 pounds a week out of our lakes and they still keep coming. We've set up processing plants and fertilizer factories and they stay busy round the clock. We are even researching various barrier systems to keep new fish from arriving, however so far, this is only experimental. The fish are edible, but bony and haven't really been accepted on the dinner tables yet. These killer hornets do not need to gain the same foothold. There are other large hornets all across the country with similar markings and they all pack powerful stings, However, not to the extent of the murder hornet and they do not attack our honeybees. I've seen numerous reports that people have seen these in other parts of the country and as of now, this is unverified and probably not accurate. There are other members of the Vespa genus that appear similar. They are large hornets with yellow and orange markings and although close cousins of the murder hornet, do not pose any extra danger than the other hornets that live here. To the untrained eye, they do look very much alike. And as far as we know, the giant Asian hornets have not migrated out of the Pacific Northwest at this time, however if you think you see one, do contact the authorities.

Stop murder hornets now

People in the Pacific Northwest need to stay alert for these hornets. They are large orange and brown insects, distinguished by over-sized orange heads and bulging brown eyes. They nest in underground burrows and favor woodsy areas. They warn intruders by snapping their massive pincer jaws together to make a clicking sound and if the trespasser doesn't retreat, they attack. The hornets have absolutely no trouble stinging through a traditional beekeeper's suit. If you see one, or hear the clicking, leave...quickly. Call your local Department of Agriculture and they will take it from there. Don't try to remove them yourself. It is too dangerous. Report any sightings, even if no nest is present. Since they nest in the ground, it will be more likely that individuals are spotted flying about. The professionals will know how to track them and find the nest. It is vital that we eliminate the killer hornets before they expand into other areas of the country and it is not known how fast that invasion will be. Time is already running out.