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It has been widely reported in the past few days that a threatening insect known as the "murder hornet" has now reached the United States from its native Asia and is raising the alarm for people with and without entomophobia (fear of insects). While the oversized sting and crab-like pliers make it look like something out of a horror movie, you don't have to put on a bulletproof suit for your next walk in the garden. Here are five things you should know about these beasts.

1. The real name of the murder hornet is giant Asian hornet.

Asian giant hornets or Vespa mandarinia are the largest hornet species in the world with a length of 1

.5 to 2 inches. They have orange and black tiger-like stripes, and according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), their nests are most commonly found in the ground.

2. Murder hornets got their nickname because they can kill people – but not as easily as you might think.

Jun-ichi Takahashi, a researcher at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, told the New York Times that scientists were nicknamed The Insects "murder hornets" because they sometimes attack and poison several in groups Stings can be fatal enough to kill a person – but they don't usually target people unless they feel threatened. (In other words, don't try to knock a giant hornet away.)

Although a single stitch cannot be fatal, it is still considerably more painful than a normal bee or hornet sting and the hornet's sting – almost an – on Quarter inch long – is big enough to break through a beekeeping suit. "It was as if glowing tacks were driven into my flesh," said Conrad Bérubé, a Canadian entomologist and beekeeper who was stabbed while eradicating a nest found on Vancouver Island, the New York Times . The next day, he had flu-like pain in his legs.

3. Murder hornets pose a serious threat to honeybees.

The most common victim of murderous hornet tendencies is the honeybee. The hornets tear off the bees 'heads with their long, barbed mandibles and carry the bees' rib cages back to their nests to feed their young. In a few hours, some hornets can completely destroy an entire beehive.

4. In the USA, hornets have only been sighted in the state of Washington.

In December 2019, four sightings of giant Asian hornets native to Japan, China, and other parts of Asia were reported in Washington – the first time the species was seen in the United States. They were also sighted in British Columbia, Canada last year. After performing genetic tests on specimens, the scientists found that the hornets from British Columbia had no relationship with one from Washington, suggesting that the species was introduced to North America at least twice.

5. Scientists and beekeepers are working hard to prevent the spread of hornets in the United States.

With the giant hornets killing bees in such large numbers, entomologists, beekeepers and other researchers are concerned about the devastating effects they could have on the already dwindling bee population if they became an established invasive species in the United States to prevent them, try to locate giant hornets and exterminate their nests as soon as possible.

“This is our window to prevent them from establishing themselves. Chris Looney, a WSDA entomologist, told The New York Times . "If we don't make it in the next few years, it probably won't work."

Beekeepers set up hornet traps near beehives and hope to catch one of the predators so that they can trace its nest. Because the activity of the hornets in their nests can raise the temperature to 86 ° F, scientists are also examining the possibility of locating them using thermal images.

[h/t The New York Times]

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