Well, summer is officially here, folks! Time to fire up the grill, fill up the kiddie pool with a leaky garden hose, and pray that the Murder Hornet has not infested your life.
Yes, the insect that has been affectionately named the “Murder Hornet” by the U.S. media (called the Asian giant hornet to the rest of the world), has made landfall this past year in North America. A nest was discovered in September of 2019 near Vancouver, Canada and although the nest was destroyed, there’s good news! Some hornets survived the winter and are now finding the climate quite delectable.
The Murder Hornet swoops in at a whopping 6.3 centimeters, making it the largest known hornet in the world. Now that it has made its appearance in the state of Washington (tomorrow the rest of the country) we need to translate that size as we are a bit allergic to the metric system: it’s 2.5 inches long.
When these behemoths come into another insect’s territory, like a honeybee hive, it decimates all those involved. How does it kill the other insects? Oh, by ripping off their heads with their pincher mouths of course and feeding the decapitated honeybee back to their young to ensure another season of terror. And, like any good super-villain worth their salt, the Murder Hornet will enter the beehive and say something witty like, “Honey, I’m home!”
And then it proceeds through the nest just ravaging everything in sight– picking up honeybees, ripping their heads off, and tossing them to the side. Given that the hornet is four times the size of the honeybee, the scene looks like something out of a Roger Corman movie. The battle itself more lopsided than a Tyson-Spinks fight; it’s brutal, full of malice, carnage, and most of all, horrifying.
What can the honeybees do? Well, the Japanese Honeybee came up with this brilliant defense: when a reconnaissance hornet comes into the nest to spray pheromones to alert his hornet friends, the honeybees swarm the giant. They don’t sting the hornet (as that would be fruitless) but rather flap their wings and generate heat. They generate so much head and carbon dioxide inside the ball o’ bees that the hornet gets roasted to death at 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s all pretty neat, but what makes it neater? The Japanese Honeybee can only reach a temperature of 117 degrees before they would die of heat death as well. They create a temperature within one or two degrees of their own death to kill an enemy.
Nature, you sly boots!
Unfortunately, the European Honeybee cannot tolerate such heat, so this defense is useless over here. 2020 is not just a bad year for humans, apparently. Entomologists have tried to assure us that there have only been a select few hives found and destroyed in the state of Washington and that the invasion is more or less under control.
But, if this invasive species is anything like, oh, I don’t know…the Japanese Beetle, the Stink Bug, or the Spotted Lantern Fly, I would like to take this time to welcome our new overlords of this country.
Mr. Murder Hornet, we’re kind of dealing with a lot of stuff right now, so you can probably just march on in and we won’t put up much of a fight. If we do resist, it won’t be much of a battle and I want you to remember that it was I, Mike Jenkins, who welcomed you with opened arms and did not put up much of a struggle.
I gave myself over to you willingly with nothing but fear and cowardice in my heart. God save the new Queen!