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- [Narrator] 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.
Ready, go.
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.
- [Narrator] 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 honeybee, 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.
- [Narrator] 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.
- [Narrator] 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.
- [Narrator] 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 shoju.
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 honeybee population.
Through their pollination, honeybees 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 honeybees?
First a worker hornet targets a honeybee colony,
placing a pheromonal mark to signal to the other hornets.
This mark isn't secret, the honeybees 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 honeybees 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 honeybees 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 honeybees 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 honeybees can survive
but hornets cannot.
Unfortunately, American honeybees 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, long 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 rerelease 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.
Honeybee 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.
- [Narrator] Hopefully these proactive measures
will stop the hornet before it takes hold
in the hospitable climate of the Pacific northwest
and spreads throughout the rest of the country.
Hopefully we can save our honeybees,
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 Home Depot.
(mysterious music)
- [Narrator] Next week, unstable and lethal,
everything you need to know
about murder ladders in seven minutes.
(dramatic music)
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Everything You Need To Know About Murder Hornets In 6 Minutes

92 Folder Collection
Summer published on June 8, 2020
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