Oct 07, 2020 I Paul Seaburn

Murder Hornets Have Entered Their “Slaughter Phase”

When they first showed up in the U.S. and then in the public consciousness via both the mainstream and social media, entomologists became upset when Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) were referred to as “murder hornets.” While that name actually comes from Japan, as do the hornets) they haven’t murdered anyone in the U.S. – in Japan, they’re responsible for around 50 deaths annually. However, the same U.S. entomologists are now changing their tune as they announce that the Asian giant hornets have entered their “slaughter phase” and they’re looking for the hornets’ nest in Washington state. NOW should we be worried?

“Track it, don’t whack it.”

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Good luck with that.

Believe it or not, that’s the slogan of the Washington State Agriculture Department’s emergency hotline for beekeepers to call if one of their hives is being slaughtered by Asian giant hornets. Honeybees are one of their favorite foods and they’re known to decapitate and tear apart entire hives of honeybees to get adults, pupae, and larvae to eat and feed their own offspring. Needless to say, the last thing beekeepers guarding their moneymakers during pollination season is “track it, don’t whack it.” But that’s not all – the Agriculture Department would ideally like them to glue a tracking device on a live giant Asian hornet, hold it until the dies and then let it fly back to the hive. Yeah, right.

“You do have to be very patient and wait till it dries. But when you’re handling an Asian giant hornet, obviously, it doesn’t want you handling it.”

Entomologist Sven Spichiger reported on a recent murder hornet (couldn’t resist) encounter in Washington. Philip Bovenkamp found a dragonfly-sized giant hornet in his Blaine shop on September 21 and called for backup. State entomologist Chris Looney caught it in a net (the first one caught alive in the U.S.) and tried to glue a tracking device on it. The glue wasn’t dry, the device slipped off and the hornet’s wings got stuck together so they couldn’t even try to follow it on foot.

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Maybe practice on something that doesn't sting first.

“We are supremely confident that, at least for the next couple of weeks, we’re probably going to snag one, if not more, of them. And we’ll be able to give this another try.”

Spichiger says the department has set out 30 traps baited with orange juice and rice wine – well, they ARE Asian hornets. And he emphasized again that they’re dangerous when alive, more so when they’re cornered and deadly in their “slaughter phase” when they’re driven to feed their young decapitated honeybees. Best bet is to called the hotline at (360) 902-1880. And don’t forget:

“Track it, don’t whack it.”

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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