US-NEWS-GIANT-ASIAN-MURDER-HORNETS-MIGHT-HA.jpg

Murder hornets are new to the United States, but not the entire world.

The National Institute of Mental Health says about 12% of adults will experience a phobia during their lifetime. One of the most common phobias — melissophobia — is known as the fear of bees and wasps and affects many people around the world. 

Recently, there’s been speculation of a new species of killer bees arriving in the U.S. “Murder hornets,” also known as Asian giant hornets, have occupied the minds of many since their supposed invasion was announced in the U.S. It’s important to understand that these hornets have existed in Asian countries for years without harming society, but these hornets are believed to kill approximately 50 people in Japan every year. 

In Japan, the murder hornet is seen as a threat and also a treat. The hornets are used in many delicate dishes such as pan-fried meals and are normally served with steamed rice. In some cases, the adult hornets are fried on skewers and eaten whole, and they’re said to create a tingling sensation. According to an article by Vice, Suzumebachi — a bar located in Fukuoka, Japan —serves cocktails and other alcoholic beverages containing the poisonous hornets. 

According to CNet.com, these hornets can be up to two inches long and are able to sting through protective beekeeping suits. They can decapitate honeybees, and their stingers contain enough venom to kill a person. Coyote Peterson, host of the popular Youtube channel, Brave Wilderness, traveled to Japan with the intent of finding an Asian hornet. He stumbled upon a nest and got stung and in an interview he says that the pain was worse than anything he’s ever experienced before. 

According to the LA Times, two of these hornets were found in Washington. One had been found alive, while the other was dead. The Washington State of Agriculture has created a new system in which it hopes to trap the hornets in order to prevent the spread of the species. If we take precautions quickly, then the likeliness of hornets existing permanently in the U.S. is low. 

Even though these hornets were found, experts believe that people may be overreacting to their appearance. CBSnews.com states that these hornets aren't aggressive to humans unless their hives are disturbed. The details of the arrival of the hornets in the U.S. is unknown, but many experts assume that they’ve hitchhiked on shipping containers and travelers from other countries. 

According to CNet.com, praying mantises may be the solution to the hornet “invasion.” In a video posted online earlier this week, a praying mantis was shown attacking a murder hornet, slowly killing it. 

However, due to panicked Americans, people are killing bees that are essential to our ecosystems. The LA Times stated that millions of native insects are going to die as a result of our carelessness. People must be aware of the damage they could potentially create if they continue to kill necessary bees out of fear. 

Although the possible threat of these murder hornets can be scary, it’s important to realize that they’ve been around for years and may not be as intimidating as they seem.

Kaylee is a senior media arts and design major. Contact Kaylee at coxkm@dukes.jmu.edu.