Scientists and state agencies are concerned about the resurgence of the murder hornet, a giant flying insect known for its dangerous sting and ability to destroy an entire bee colony in just hours. Experts are warning the public that this invasive species’ hibernation is coming to an end, and scientists need help eradicating them before they become a bigger problem.
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The murder hornet starts building its nests in spring, but the activity comes with a trail of destruction. In the past two years, the bug has been spotted in the state of Washington and British Columbia.
“This is not a species we want to tolerate here in the United States. We may not get them all, but we will get as many as we can.” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, managing entomologist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
Scientists are now calling on members of the public for help. The Washington State Department of Agriculture has published a statement encouraging residents to put out orange juice- or brown sugar-based traps.
“Washington’s plans remain similar to last year’s response, including a strong emphasis on public outreach, reporting, and trapping in addition to the agency’s trapping,” the department said. “[The department] will continue to use orange juice and rice cooking wine in traps while citizen scientists will have the option of using either the orange juice or a brown sugar-based bait.”
Last year, citizen trappings and reports were instrumental in containing the hornets. Almost half of the confirmed reports of murder hornets in Washington were from members of the public. The agency says that it will still be relying on the community this year as part of its broad approach to eradicate this invasive species.
The so-called murder hornets, scientifically known as Vespa mandarinia, are killer insects that account for dozens of deaths every year in Asia. However, their biggest threat is not to humans but to bees. One hornet can kill one bee in just 14 seconds.
Image via Yasunori Koide