Two-inch long Asian hornets have invaded the US, and researchers warn they could obliterate the already declining honey bee population. When the hornets, also known as ‘murder hornets’ as they kill an average of 50 people a year, encounter bee colonies, they make their way through, killing all the adults before feeding on the young in a matter of hours.
The first sightings in the US were recorded in November 2019, and now experts have stated colonies of giant hornets have been located and subsequently exterminated.
Chris Looney, entomologist Washington State’s Department of Agriculture, told the New York Times all the colonies need to be exterminated within the next two years, or the situation could spiral out of control.
He said: “This is our window to keep it from establishing. If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done. Don’t try to take them out yourself if you see them.
“If you get into them, run away, then call us! It is really important for us to know of every sighting, if we’re going to have any hope of eradication.”
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So far, it is unclear how Asian hornets made their way to the States, but they have already spread so widely they are being found north of the border in Canada.
Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist, was sent to destroy a hive on Vancouver Island, and detailed his gruesome encounter which left him bleeding.
He said: “It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh.” He added he was left bleeding after being stung.”
Asian hornets have also made their way to the UK, and a report last month found the damage they can cause could cost the UK £7.6million, and wreak havoc on the already dwindling bee population.
READ MORE: Asian hornet alert: How to you tell if you have them and what to do