The Asian “Murder Hornet” Now Sets Foot in the USA

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Image: hawaiipublicradio/TED S. WARREN

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, another nuisance has landed in the USA. COVID-19 has already claimed more than 28,000 lives alone in the US while a fatal pest from Asia, Murder Hornet has arrived for the first time in the states.

The hornet also is known as the “Asian giant” is 4 times the size of a honey bee and has a big orangey head with bulging black eyes and the abdomen with black and yellow alternate stripes.

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The murder weapon of this fatal pest is a neurotoxin that is potent enough to claim a human life and it is a major threat to the honey bee population. While efforts are being set in progress to control the spread of the Murder Hornet in the US, it is still unknown how the insect arrived.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture has confirmed that the hornets have made an appearance twice near the Canadian border. The natural habitat of the hornet is a forest that makes it unclear how the pest invaded the town Blaine where the pest was seen for the first time in the US. It is a great concern for the farmers residing in the North West of the US as their source of pollination of the crops is the honey bees and wasps.

Murder hornet became infamous in Japan where the deadly pest kills nearly 30 to 40 people annually.

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As reported by the Washington State University, the queen hornets are expected to come out of hibernation during the spring season to feed themselves and build their nests. Scientists from the Washington State University are looking forward to trapping the queen hornets in the hope to eradicate Murder hornet in the US in the spring season.

The sting of the hornets is known to penetrate the regular beekeeper suit; therefore, specifically designed PPE suits are ordered from China to save themselves the deadly sting of the hornets which is known to be seven times more in quantity as compared to a honey bee.

Although bees and wasps are the main targets of the hornets, they can also attack humans when provoked. These notorious hornets can clear out a beehive within few hours. They attack a beehive to decapitate the adult bees and cram down the larvae of the bees.

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The US is already facing a reduction in the population of the pollinators including the honeybees. A decline in the population from 6 million to 2.5 million is reported from 1947 to 2017. The largest decline occurred in a single season between October 2018 to April 2019 when a loss of 40% of the honeybee population was seen.

During these challenging times when the global economy is on the verge of collapsing, a target at the pollinators which sustain agriculture in the country is agonizing.

In the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic which seems to be still out of control, the attack of the hornets can prove to be a challenge for the scientists as well as the US authorities. However, it is too early to predict the loss caused by the invasion of Murder hornets in the US.

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