Everything You Need to Know About “Murder Hornets”

Everything You Need to Know About “Murder Hornets”

Asian Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia), also known as “Murder Hornets” have now been found in the United States for the first time ever. Although scientists are unsure when or how these pests first arrived, there have been verified sightings as far back as December in Washington state. These hornets were also discovered back in August 2019 in Canada in both British Columbia and Vancouver Island.

Asian Giant Hornets are larger than typical species of hornets with an average length of 1.5 to 2 inches. They have large yellow to orange heads with prominent eyes. They also have yellow/orange and black stripes extending down their abdomen.

“Murder hornets” are known to be aggressive. While they don’t typically go after humans, they will attack if they are disturbed or threatened. Their stingers are longer and more dangerous than those of bees and are even capable of penetrating typical beekeeper suits. They will attack aggressively in groups and their collective stings can administer enough toxic venom to be equivalent to the bite from a venomous snake. Multiple stings to a person can be fatal. In fact, these hornets are known to kill up to 50 people per year in Japan.

The life cycle of the Asian Giant Hornet begins in April prompting concern from scientists and researchers that a wave of these predators is imminent. Queens will soon be emerging from hibernation in search of new locations for underground nests. Once these are established, workers will be sent out in search of food for the newfound colony. This usually happens in late summer and early fall.

These “murder hornets” are a significant predator to honeybees, one of the most important pollinators in the United States. In fact, Asian Giant Hornets are capable of wiping out an entire honeybee hive in a matter of a few hours. The worker hornets will decapitate the bees and bring their thoraces back to the colony to feed their young. This is problematic for the US as honeybee and other pollinator populations are already on the decline. Pollinators increase the United States’ annual crop values by $15 billion.

Because of this threat to the honeybee population, scientists are actively searching for Asian Giant Hornets and their nests to keep their population from becoming established and completely eradicating the bee population here. The fact that these hornets’ nests are often found underground coupled with the ideal and vast climate and landscape of Washington state, tracking down these nests is quite difficult. Scientists have mapped out search grids and are moving painstakingly across the state in search of these pests. They are placing traps with geotagging and implementing geothermal imaging of the forest floors. They also have plans to try other methods in the future such as tracking the signature hum the hornets make when they are in flight and tagging and tracking any hornets that are caught in the traps.

While the “murder hornets” don’t pose an immediate threat to the Southeast states right now, it’s important to be aware of the destruction they can cause. For any questions regarding bees or other pests, contact a Northwest team member at (888) 466-7849 or request a free estimate now.








Hornets are wasps that are closely related to, but not to be confused with yellow jackets. In all, there are about 20 hornet species worldwide, but the primary hornet in North America is the European hornet. Just like other social wasps, hornets create their nests from chewing wood into a papery pulp to raise their eggs to adults.

European hornet

You’ll tend to see hornet activity during warmer weather because hornet nests get abandoned in the winter. During this time, they’ll hide under tree bark or even inside human dwellings in order to protect themselves and their eggs. When spring hits, the surviving queens crate a new nest and this is when they become quite an issue for homeowners.

Their threat to homeowners is in their sting, as they use it to kill prey and defend their hives. Unlike bees, hornets can sting multiple times as they do not die after stinging. The toxicity of their sting depends on their species, but the Asian giant hornet is the most venomous. People must be very careful because as social wasps, hornets can mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense, creating a highly dangerous situation. Furthermore, it’s better to call an exterminating company to eliminate the entire hive. This is because if hornets are killed near their hive, their bodies may release a pheromone which can cause other hornets to attack.

Asian giant hornet




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