Insects can really bewilder us with their appearance, but this time a vicious and giant hornet attacks a mouse and kills it. The video of this act was posted on Twitter and immediately became viral. The hornet commonly attacks bees, but this time an extremely big hornet attacks and kills a mouse that is four times its size. This giant insect is also referred to as the ‘murder hornet,’ that proved to be deadly not only for insects but as well as for other smaller animals.
Vespa mandarina is the Latin name of the Asian Giant Hornet being native in eastern and southeastern parts of Asia, but most commonly in Japan. It is the largest hornet on the planet and can grow up to 5 centimeters (2inch) in length. Aside its size this hornet is unique in its attacking skills. Namely, the Asian Giant Hornet is the only wasp species that stages group attacks on beehives, and it does it in three phases: the hunting phase, the slaughter phase, and the occupation phase.
The Planned Attacks of the Hornets
In the hunting phase, the solitary worker hornet is in charge for the surveillance. These hornets wait in ambush near the entrance of the hive so that they can capture bees while they are still in flight. This first phase of their attack can last indefinitely, however if the hornet’s nest is near the beehive the next phase will come sooner.
The slaughter phase begins when 2 to 50 hornets attack a single hive that has been previously marked by their fellow, the worker hornet. The killing maneuver is done by staying close to the hive entrance and attacking bees that are launching a counter-attack. When they start the attack they do not stop until they are done. They may be even disturbed during the process, but they never stop. This persistence can continue for too long that can lead to their starvation and eventually kill them. However, they rarely die during these attacks unless they have not been killed by competing hornet groups.
In the occupation phase, they diligently guard the hive and secure it from any trespass from other animals by clicking their mandibles.
The kill of their victims is rather horrible; they bite them to death and in the end decapitating them. They take the head of the victim and bring it back to feed their larvae.
Hornets in North America – A Possible Threat for Bees
Hornets were first spotted in North America in 2019 in British Columbia, Canada, and after a few months they were also found in Washington State. There are more hornets than before as they have multiplied a lot since their appearance.
They are hunting other insects and the North American honeybees do not have defensive methods against them, which may kill the bee population in the US and Canada. The Japanese honeybees have evolved and thus managed to protect themselves, but the bees in the states and Canada still have not found their way.
Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, states the following:
“This is our window to keep it from establishing. If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done.”
Can they attack people?
Generally, these insects do not attack people, any possible attack happens when they get threatened. If this happens multiple stings by Asian Hornets can kill a human. Namely, in Japan, where they are very common, every year 30 to 40 people die from hornets’ sting bites.
The stingers of the hornets are very long and sharp that can even go through a bee suit piercing the human skin. The sting bite is very painful, and Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist in Nanaimo, British Columbia, confirms that. He was stung by them seven times when he was assigned to exterminate a hive that was located on Vancouver Island. Although he was wearing a protective bee suit and underneath shorts and thick sweatpants, the hornets still managed to sting him.
“It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh,” he said.
How to protect ourselves and the bees from the vicious hornets?
They are very difficult to catch but they commonly set up their homes in densely wooded areas, and often hide their nest underground. Plus, they are difficult to track as they fly many miles every day, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.
Fortunately, the state officials have come up with a plan placing hundreds of traps. Trackers consider the use of thermal imaging to examine the forest floors since the activity of the hornets in their nests can keep the inside temperature up to 86 degrees. There is also the possibility of using advanced tools that could track the hum the hornet makes when in flight. Plus, catching a hornet could open the possibility of using radio-frequency identification tags that would help in monitoring its whereabouts and as well as its nest.
The reduction of the honeybee population in North America in the last decades has been significant endangering their sole existence. Namely, between 1947 and 2017, the number of honeybee colonies in the states has gone down from six million to only 2.5 million due to the side effects of the climate change. Their count still rapidly goes down, and between October 2018 and April 2019, 40% of the country’s colonies died. These hardworking insects are the most valuable natural pollinators for our crops thus providing us with food on our tables. If they are extinct our food supply will dramatically get reduced and the damage to the various ecosystems will be enormous. Hence, we should do everything that is in our power to save the bees, including the elimination of Asian Giant Hornets.
If you spot a nest of these harmful insects, make certain to stay far away from it, and immediately notify state authorities.