The Invasion of the Asian Giant Hornets


Sheri Hartman

A giant Asian hornet. Picture from Washington State Department of Agriculture; taken October 23, 2020.

Benny Salazar Zarate, Staff Reporter

Originally from Japan, the spine-tingling Asian giant hornets have come to Washington and have killed many of our honey bees. They were mostly found in Whatcom County. Recently, scientists have discovered two hornet nests. In the first nest, they found more than 200 “murder hornet” queens! The queen hornet is about 2.2 inches long, and its wingspan is about 3 inches. 

Scientifically named Vespa mandarinia, the “murder hornets” are the biggest species of hornets know to humankind. Apart from being in Japan, they also eradicate in tropical East Asia, South Asia, Mainland Southeast Asia, and some parts of the Russian Far East. Many people believe that two fertile queens made it to Canada via shipping packages. 

Back in Japan, Japanese honeybees have developed an ambush technique to kill the hornets whenever they sent a scout. What they do is that they lure the hornet into the nest, and once it’s inside, all the bees get on it and then raise their body temperature to then kill the hornet. Our honeybees do the same thing with their queen bee once there’s a new one available. The giant hornets also kill around 30-50 Japanese people every year.

Gabriella Sanchez, a freshman here at Arlington High School said, “I never really thought much about them. Giant hornets are obviously a bit scary and terrifying to be near, but I never saw one. I don’t know much about them, all I know is that getting stung by one is horrible.”

Scientists have vacuumed up the nests and, hopefully, the hornets have not spread out farther than Whatcom County. They still do not know how the hornets will react to the cold here in the Winter. The worst case scenario is that they spread out into Oregon 20 years or less.