National news broke this week that ‘murder hornets’ have reached the United States, leaving many on social media to question if we’re in a virtual simulation of the game Jumanji. However, don’t let the Asian giant hornet’s ominous nickname or large stature frighten you. They prefer to hunt other insects over pets and people.
Below, Mosquito Squad’s resident Entomologist, Dr. Kevin Chan, answers your frequently asked questions about this new population of visitors.
How Do You Identify an Asian Giant Hornet?
Asian giant hornets are the world’s largest wasps. The queens can exceed 2 inches in length. Their heads are a distinct orange color. The thorax is dark brown, and their abdomens have alternating bands that are black or dark-brown and yellow-orange.
What Time of Year Are the Hornets Most Active?
The hornets become active in the spring and peak around late summer. Most beehive attacks happen during the late summer or early fall.
What Is Their Food Source?
The Asian giant hornet needs carbohydrates and proteins for sustenance. They obtain carbohydrates in the form of tree sap or honey, and they get protein by eating other insects.
What Should You Do If You Spot One?
Stay away from the Asian giant hornet! They are extremely aggressive if mishandled or when defending their nest. Give your local Mosquito Squad a call, and we will work with the state department of agriculture to aid in the biological survey and study of these specimens.
What about the bees?
Honeybee hives are excellent food sources for hornets; thus, they are often targeted by worker Asian giant hornets. They can invade and destroy a honeybee hive quickly. The Japanese honeybee, Apis cerana, has a natural way to kill Asian giant hornets that invade the hive. They will swarm the hornet, vibrate their wings, and increase the temperature to incapacitate the hornet. Unfortunately, Apis mellifera, the European honeybee, which is the most prevalent species among beekeepers, do not have any defenses against the Asian giant hornet. Beekeepers should monitor the hives and their local area for signs of Asian giant hornets. They can also include entrance reducers that allow movement of the honeybees but not Asian giant hornets.