Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum→Tracking the 'Murder Hornet': A Deadly Pest Has Reached North America

Views: 440, Replies: 7 » Jump to the end
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
crawgarden
May 2, 2020 3:01 PM CST
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/0...

Tracking the 'Murder Hornet': A Deadly Pest Has Reached North America

Sightings of the Asian giant hornet have prompted fears that the vicious insect could establish itself in the United States and devastate bee populations.

"This is our window to keep it from establishing," Chris Looney, a Washington State entomologist, said of the two-inch Asian giant hornet. He displayed a dead hornet on his jacket.
"This is our window to keep it from establishing," Chris Looney, a Washington State entomologist, said of the two-inch Asian giant hornet. He displayed a dead hornet on his jacket.Credit...Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

By Mike Baker

May 2, 2020
Updated 4:23 p.m. ET

BLAINE, Wash. — In his decades of beekeeping, Ted McFall had never seen anything like it.

As he pulled his truck up to check on a group of hives near Custer, Wash., in November, he could spot from the window a mess of bee carcasses on the ground. As he looked closer, he saw a pile of dead members of the colony in front of a hive and more carnage inside — thousands and thousands of bees with their heads torn from their bodies and no sign of a culprit.

"I couldn't wrap my head around what could have done that," Mr. McFall said.

Only later did he come to suspect that the killer was what some researchers simply call the "murder hornet."

With queens that can grow to two inches long, Asian giant hornets can use mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins to wipe out a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the bees and flying away with the thoraxes to feed their young. For larger targets, the hornet's potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened to hot metal driving into their skin.

In Japan, the hornets kill up to 50 people a year. Now, for the first time, they have arrived in the United States.

Mr. McFall still is not certain that Asian giant hornets were responsible for the plunder of his hive. But two of the predatory insects were discovered last fall in the northwest corner of Washington State, a few miles north of his property — the first sightings in the United States.

Scientists have since embarked on a full-scale hunt for the hornets, worried that the invaders could decimate bee populations in the United States and establish such a deep presence that all hope for eradication could be lost.

"This is our window to keep it from establishing," said Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture. "If we can't do it in the next couple of years, it probably can't be done."
ImageThe members of Ted McFall's beehive near Custer, Wash., had their heads torn from their bodies.
The members of Ted McFall's beehive near Custer, Wash., had their heads torn from their bodies. Credit...Ted McFall

On a cold morning in early December, two and a half miles to the north of Mr. McFall's property, Jeff Kornelis stepped on his front porch with his terrier-mix dog. He looked down to a jarring sight: "It was the biggest hornet I'd ever seen."

The insect was dead, and after inspecting it, Mr. Kornelis had a hunch that it might be an Asian giant hornet. It did not make much sense, given his location in the world, but he had seen an episode of the YouTube personality Coyote Peterson getting a brutal sting from one of the hornets.

Beyond its size, the hornet has a distinctive look, with a cartoonishly fierce face featuring teardrop eyes like Spider-Man, orange and black stripes that extend down its body like a tiger, and broad, wispy wings like a small dragonfly.

Mr. Kornelis contacted the state, which came out to confirm that it was indeed an Asian giant hornet. Soon after, they learned that a local beekeeper in the area had also found one of the hornets.

Dr. Looney said it was immediately clear that the state faced a serious problem, but with only two insects in hand and winter coming on, it was nearly impossible to determine how much the hornet had already made itself at home.

Over the winter, state agriculture biologists and local beekeepers got to work, preparing for the coming season. Ruthie Danielsen, a beekeeper who has helped organize her peers to combat the hornet, unfurled a map across the hood of her vehicle, noting the places across Whatcom County where beekeepers have placed traps.

"Most people are scared to get stung by them," Ms. Danielsen said. "We're scared that they are going to totally destroy our hives."
ImageRuthie Danielsen noted the places across Whatcom County where beekeepers have placed hornet traps.
Ruthie Danielsen noted the places across Whatcom County where beekeepers have placed hornet traps.Credit...Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Adding to the uncertainty — and mystery — were some other discoveries of the Asian giant hornet across the border in Canada.

In November, a single hornet was seen in White Rock, British Columbia, perhaps 10 miles away from the discoveries in Washington State — likely too far for the hornets to be part of the same colony. Even earlier, there had been a hive discovered on Vancouver Island, across a strait that probably was too wide for a hornet to have crossed from the mainland.

Crews were able to track down the hive on Vancouver Island. Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist in the town of Nanaimo, was assigned to exterminate it.

He set out at night, when the hornets would be in their nest. He put on shorts and thick sweatpants, then his bee suit. He donned Kevlar braces on his ankles and wrists.

But as he approached the hive, he said, the rustling of the brush and the shine of his flashlight awakened the colony. Before he had a chance to douse the nest with carbon dioxide, he felt the first searing stabs in his leg — through the bee suit and underlying sweatpants.

"It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh," he said. He ended up getting stung at least seven times, some of the stings drawing blood.

Jun-ichi Takahashi, a researcher at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, said the species had earned the "murder hornet" nickname there because its aggressive group attacks can expose victims to doses of toxic venom equivalent to that of a venomous snake; a series of stings can be fatal.

The night he got stung, Mr. Bérubé still managed to eliminate the nest and collect samples, but the next day, his legs were aching, as if he had the flu. Of the thousands of times he has been stung in his lifetime of work, he said, the Asian giant hornet stings were the most painful.
ImageBeehives at Ms. Danielsen's home in Birch Bay.
Beehives at Ms. Danielsen's home in Birch Bay.Credit...Ruth Fremson/The New York Times





Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Bookworm Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California
Plant Identifier
Image
ctcarol
May 2, 2020 5:14 PM CST
Just what we need, another Asian pest invasion. Grumbling
Name: Bea
(Zone 8b)
Ponds Hellebores Composter Herbs Keeper of Koi Keeps Horses
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Aquaponics Greenhouse Clematis Lilies Cut Flowers
Image
bumplbea
May 3, 2020 6:06 PM CST
crawgarden...after reading this article and seeing the pics of those giant Asian hornets, I hope that they can stop the spread of these huge and dangerous hornets.

Just a sting by a yellow jacket is bad enough. I can't imagine the agony of the experience of a sting from a giant hornet. I also hope that there is a possibility to find a predatory insect to help eliminate them in the egg stages. It's sad that these hornets are so destructive for our bees that already have so much against their survival.

I will certainly keep my eyes open for flying insects in my area.
Thank for bringing the article to our attention.
I’m so busy... “I don’t know if I found a rope or lost a horse.”
[Last edited by bumplbea - May 3, 2020 8:08 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2226649 (3)
Name: Peggy
Temple, TX (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Deer Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bluebonnets Irises Lilies
Image
Peggy8b
May 23, 2020 2:28 PM CST
I got stung on the toe TWICE by the same yellow jacket while quarantining down at our Central TX getaway cabin. I was wearing sandals and working around a wooden chair where they had apparently built a nest up underneath the seat where I could not see it. Defending their eggs from the monster lady I suppose. Man did that hurt! my 3rd toe swelled up nearly double and then started itching unmercifully later that night when the stinging let up a bit. I react so strongly to any kind of insect bites. Always have. Bothered me for 3 days but it's better now.
My low-carb recipe website: www.buttoni.wordpress.com
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Bonehead
May 23, 2020 2:42 PM CST
Per the USDA, if you spot one of the giant Asian hornets, try to snap a picture, and note where it was seen and which direction it was flying. In fairness, our honeybees are not native either, so there's that. Seems I read that we do have a native bee that has largely been displaced by the honeybees, not sure though.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Sherri
Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b)
Butterflies Birds Bee Lover Organic Gardener Bromeliad Tropicals
Native Plants and Wildflowers Container Gardener Hibiscus Salvias Cactus and Succulents Adeniums
Image
sunkissed
May 24, 2020 10:41 AM CST
ctcarol said:Just what we need, another Asian pest invasion. Grumbling


I agree Crying
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
crawgarden
Oct 24, 2020 6:20 AM CST

1st 'Murder Hornet' Nest In U.S. Is Found In Washington State

https://www.npr.org/2020/10/23...
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Bookworm Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California
Plant Identifier
Image
ctcarol
Oct 24, 2020 11:01 AM CST
One could only hope that will be a success, and the end of them, but....
Thanks for the update, Rj !

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "bleeding heart"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.