There has been a lot of fuss the last week or so about the so-called ‘murder hornet’ which has been spotted in Washington state, but experts claim there’s nothing to worry about – unless you’re a honeybee.
The world’s largest hornet, a 2-inch long killer has a sting that could be fatal to some humans, although that is very rare. The creature is known to decapitate entire hives of honeybees though, a creature that is already under threat.
The Associated Press has spoken to a number of bug experts who compare the ‘murder hornet’ hype to that of the 1970s ‘killer bees’ scare when Africanized bees moved into South America.
“They are not ‘murder hornets. They are just hornets. The number of people who are stung and have to seek medical attention is incredibly small”
– Washington Agriculture Department entomologist Chris Looney
Only two dead hornets have been found in Washington, last December, and no live hornets have yet been seen this year. They are, however, fairly intimidating creatures, and at two inches long does carry a stronger toxin than regular bees which while really nasty, is not fatal.
Putting things into perspective, a University of Illinois entomologist added:
“People are afraid of the wrong thing. The scariest insect out there are mosquitoes. People don’t think twice about them. If anyone’s a murder insect, it would be a mosquito.”
– May Berenbaum
Mosquitoes are responsible for millions of yearly deaths worldwide according to the World Health Organization, whereas Asian giant hornets at most kill a few dozen people a year and some experts said it’s probably far less.