News

Giant 'murder hornets' that kill dozens of people a year spread to US and Canada

They kill around 50 people a year, and their sting is bloody painful.
25 August 2022 2:05PM

A killer hornet that feeds on bees and is capable of excruciating stings that can kill people has made landfall in North America, causing widespread fear among insect experts.

The Asian giant hornet - which entomologists have dubbed the 'murder hornet' - are native to Japan, where their highly venomous stings are responsible for an average of 50 deaths a year.

It's not known how the murder hornet made it to the US and Canada, 10,000km away, but there are major concerns that its presence there could further annihilate bee colonies, which have already been decimated in recent decades.

Bees are a major food source for murder hornets, which are significantly larger than other hornet, bee or wasp species. They decapitate bees, then take the severed thoraxes back to their offspring, who feed on them.

Their presence in North America was discovered when beekeepers in the north-east visited their normally busy hives to find the ground carpeted in bee carcasses, according to a New York Times report. 

recent study estimates one in every three bites of food is made possible by bees, which goes some way to explaining the fear around their arrival there. A reduction in bee numbers could hit the US, one of the world's largest food producers, particularly hard.

Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, told the Times that it's likely North America has a window of just two years to wipe them out.

Here's hoping those pesky buggers don't make their way to NZ.