It decapitates victims, feeds on their babies, and gives the decapitated remains to its own babies to eat, and now it's coming to North America.
This is everything you need to know about murder hornets in six minutes.
Dubbed the murder hornet by the US media, the Asian giant hornet has a sting that can be fatal to humans.
Native to Asia, this hornet was spotted for the first time in the US this past December, and it's got people worried.
- Yeah, this is brand new to me and our department.
- This is a queen from Japan of the Asian giant hornet.
- We are not entirely positive what the threat will be.
- We have to take all the precautions we can.
V. Mandarinia have a lethal anatomy.
It's the largest hornet in the world.
The female worker hornets can grow to about an inch and a half long, and their queens can grow to two inches in length.
Their faces are cartoonishly fierce, with large teardrop-shaped eyes, their orange and black stripes lead to broad wings that more so resemble a dragonfly than a bee.
These hornets have large mouths shaped like a spiked shark fin, mouths that are able to decapitate victims.
Humans can die from a series of stings from their long stingers.
So long, in fact, the hornet's stinger can puncture through a standard beekeeping suit.
Unlike the honey bee, which can only sting once, the hornet can sting multiple times.
The sting has been described as a lot like having hot metal driven through the skin.
- Every year there are people in Japan that are hospitalized from multiple stings, and some even die.
The USDA estimates the hornets kill between 30 to 50 people a year in Japan.
- If you are one of the people that is unlucky enough to stumble into a nest and get stung, that's (a), definitely going to hurt, if you're allergic, you could go into shock.
But even if you're not allergic, the venom of the hornet attacks red blood cells and can lead to kidney failure and death.
- The human health risks are real.
The murder hornet moniker has created a lot of fear and hysteria, that's probably overblown.
The so-called murder hornets are a big deal, but not because they're going to murder you.
These insects should probably be more afraid of humans.
In Japan, their nests are hunted for trophies.
The hornets themselves are eaten fried or steamed, and even drowned in alcohol and served in soju.
Consuming them is said to elicit a tingly warm sensation and increase virility.
The real reason we should be scared of these giant hornets is because of their threat to our honey bee population.
Through their pollination, honey bees contribute around 15 billion to the US economy per year, and these murder hornets have the capability to completely massacre them.
So how does the Asian giant hornet attack honey bees?
First, a worker hornet targets a honey bee colony, placing a pheromonal mark to signal to the other hornets.
This mark isn't secret, the honey bees sense it too, hiding inside their hive for safety.
Now these hornets are uniquely vicious because they attack in groups.
They gang up on the colony, quickly decapitating the honey bees and eating their immature bees growing inside the beehive's wax cells.
They take their remains and feed them to their own hornet larva.
Japanese honey bees have actually evolved to develop a mechanism to fight back.
If the Asian giant hornet arrives alone or in too few numbers, it's the honey bees who come out on top.
As many as 400 bees will surround it, buzzing in a tight ball.
This action increases the temperature to nearly 115 degrees Fahrenheit and raises the carbon dioxide level inside the hive, a harsh condition that honey bees can survive, but hornets cannot.
Unfortunately, American honey bees don't have the ability to create a bee ball and kill hornets by frying them in 115 degree heat.
With no defensive capability, they need our help.
The US government, along with scientists and beekeepers, are already taking steps to eradicate the hornet before it takes root.
They're setting up traps to locate them and prevent further spread, and in the future, they may re-release hornets with the radio frequency identification tags so the hornet can unknowingly reveal the location of its colony, which are typically hidden underground.
In Asia, there are a lot of different ways they try to stop the hornets.
Honey bee hives can be fitted with doors too small for the hornets to enter, and they might even resort to using tennis racquets to swat them.
- We are basing our tracking program off of things that have been effective in Japan and Korea, where people have been living with this species for a very long time and there are robust public survey programs.
-The way we eradicate them is locating the nest and then we will send out a team in our special protective hornet suits with an insecticidal dust and kill that localized nest.
-As gruesome as that sounds, that's our goal, is to kill these off and keep them from establishing in Washington state.
Hopefully, these proactive measures will stop the hornet before it takes hold in the hospitable climate of the Pacific Northwest and spread throughout the rest of the country.
Hopefully, we can save our honey bees, which have already seen a 29–45% loss in hives since 2012.
Bee populations are already threatened by deadly parasites, viral diseases, and exposures to pesticides in their food, and now murder hornets?
Can't they catch a break?
So if you hear more about murder hornets, remember that they're scary to humans because of their potential to annihilate our bees, not because they're necessarily going to murder us.
- But on the grand scheme of risk to human health, it's low compared to all the other stuff we do every day.
-I think if you look at mortality statistics, falling in your home is still far more risky and we don't report murder ladders to the Home Depot.
Next week, unstable and lethal, everything you need to know about murder ladders in seven minutes.