An invasive and aggressive species of hornets have been found in the United States. According to the New York Times, the Asian giant hornet, more commonly referred to as a "murder hornet," has been showing up in the Pacific Northwest.
The hornets can grow to be two inches long and have powerful stingers capable of puncturing a beekeeper's suit. The hornets mostly feed on other bees, biting their heads off and feeding their thoraxes to their young. This is bad news for bee colonies because the murder hornets are known to decimate hives in just a few hours.
Ted McFall, who has worked for decades as a beekeeper, saw first-hand the destruction the invasive hornets can cause. He described to the Times how he found thousands of bee carcasses littering the ground with their heads bitten off.
"I couldn't wrap my head around what could have done that," McFall said.
While the hornets can devastate local beehives, they also pose a danger to humans. In Japan, they kill about 50 people per year. The hornets will attack in groups and can inject about the same amount of toxic venom as some species of snakes.
Officials with Washington State Department of Agriculture are working to eliminate the hornets before they take permanent hold in the area.
"This is our window to keep it from establishing," said Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture. "If we can't do it in the next couple of years, it probably can't be done."
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