More 'murder hornets' are turning up. Here's what you need to know

By: Alina Dang

More murder hornets heve been discovered in the Pacific Northwest in 2020. It is not yet known how the murder hornets got to North America. In May, 2020, murder hornets were spotted in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington, U.S.A.

Although murder hornets have been discovered before in North America, two new specimens of Asian giant hornet have showed up, suggesting that last year’s effort to extinguish them has failed because the invasive species have survived the winter.

Asian giant hornets have been on American land before. In 2016, they were spotted in California. As entomologist Allan Smith-Pardo said, “It wasn’t just some lone hornet hiding in a cargo container.” He was charged with identifying any bees or wasps found in cargo or mail nationwide. An inspector flagged an express package coming into the San Francisco airport with no mention of any insects. However, it held some kind of papery honeycomb-like nest.

The insect earns its nickname from its tendency to capture a honeybee and carry it home to nourish young hornets. Raiding parties of several dozen giant hornets can kill whole hives containing thousands of bees in only a few hours.

James Carpenter, a hornet specialist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City said, “The Asian giant hornet doesn’t really specialize in honeybees.” Instead of what the public thinks they specialize in, the species actually usually hunt for other foods. For the early months of the one year life cycle of a nest in temperate climates, workers forage alone, often for beetles.

In September 2019, some beekeepers tracked down and destroyed a hornet nest with the size around the diameter of a large grapefruit near a public footpath in Nanaimo near Vancouver, Canada. Lone hornets also showed up on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.

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