The Asian giant hornet has become well-known due to its internet moniker, “murder hornet.” While the stings of this species can be extremely severe, it is believed that hornets kill less than 40 people each year in Asia.
According to the CDC, native hornets, wasps, and bees killed 89 individuals in the United States in 2017.
Hornets are found along the Asian coastline, from Russia’s the Far East to the tropics. However, in 2019 and 2020, reports of these “murder hornets” began to occur in the Pacific Northwest, prompting worries that they may destroy local bee populations with their enormous mandibles, which they use to decapitate big honey bee populations.
The hornets then feed their offspring by carrying the thorax of their prey.
Because a single murder hornet can kill up to 40 honey bees every minute, a small number of hornets may quickly wipe out an entire colony of honey bees.
The first U.S. “murder hornet” nest was discovered on October 23rd in Blaine, Washington, raising worries that the species might grow invasive and endanger bee numbers, which are essential for pollinating many crops.
Asian Giant Hornet Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Hymenoptera
- Family: Vespidae
- Genus: Vespa
- Scientific Name: Vespa mandarinia
- Conservation Status: Near Threatened
- Locations: Asia
Asian Giant Hornet Facts
- Prey: Bees, Honeybees, Insects, Wasps
- Name Of Young: Larvae
- Group Behavior: Colony
- Fun Fact: The largest wasp in the world!
- Estimated Population Size: Unknown
- Biggest Threat: Habitat loss
- Distinctive Feature: Wide black and orange body and large mandibles
- Other Name(s): Giant Sparrow Bee
- Incubation Period: 1 week
- Age of Independence: 10 days
- Average Spawn Size: 50
- Habitat: Dense woodland
- Predators: Human
- Diet: Carnivore
- Lifestyle: Diurnal
- Common Name: Asian Giant Hornet
- Number of Species: 1
- Location: Eastern Asia
- Slogan: The largest wasp in the world!
- Group: Wasp
Asian Giant Hornet Physical Characteristics
- Colour: Brown, Yellow, Red, Black, Orange
- Skin Type: Shell
- Lifespan: 3 – 5 months
- Length:7cm – 5.5cm (1.1in – 2.2in)
- Age of Sexual Maturity: 1 year
Incredible Asian Giant Hornet Facts!
Murder hornets: The Asian gigantic hornet’s nickname of “murder hornet” has garnered a lot of interest on the internet. What’s the story behind the dramatic moniker? For starters, the species has the potential to grow extremely huge, with queens reaching over 2 inches in length.
Giant hornets were given the moniker “death hornet” because of their ferocious predatory tendencies, in addition to their huge size. A single Asian giant hornet can kill more than 40 bees every minute by swiftly decapitating beer after beer with its enormous mandibles!
Asian bees, on the other hand, have adapted to deal with this menace! Because Asian bees are constantly battling “murder hornets,” they’ve developed a unique adaption to combat hornets infiltrating their hive. The hornets’ temperature rises to 117 degrees when bees swarm around them and vibrate their flying muscles. Bees can endure temperatures up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas hornets can only withstand temperatures up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. They utilize this minute distinction to effectively “cook” murder hornets alive!
Asian Giant Hornet Classification and Evolution
The Asian giant hornet is the world’s biggest hornet species, with some queens reaching a length of more than 5cm. They may be found across Eastern Asia, but are most widely known in Japan as the Giant Sparrow Bee. It is not to be mistaken with the more placid Asian hornet, which arrived in France in 2005 and is believed to be no more hazardous than the European hornet despite having a similar look to the Asian giant hornet. The Asian gigantic hornet was originally identified in 1852 by Frederick Smith, a British entomologist who worked at the British Museum’s zoology department.
Asian Giant Hornet Anatomy and Appearance
Asian giant hornets grow to reach between 2.7cm and 4.5cm in length, with a wingspan of about 7cm, making them the largest wasp species on the planet. The queens may grow to be 5.5cm long and have an orange head, black mandibles, and a black and golden body, similar to the worker hornets. Both sets of eyes, one compound, and one ocelli, are brown in hue, as are the legs of the Asian giant hornet. The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is not barbed, unlike those of other wasps and bees, and so remains attached to the body after employed. This implies that Asian Giant Hornets have the ability to repeatedly sting their prey, delivering a complex venom that contains eight distinct compounds.
“Murder hornet” nickname
Since its discovery in the United States in 2019, the Asian giant hornet has gotten a lot of interest in the media. The hornets are referred to as “murder hornets” in most of the media.
In 2008, Japan was the first country to adopt this name. Its popularity skyrocketed after a New York Times story on the hornets in May 2020 coined the term “murder hornet.”
Despite the fact that Asian giant hornets have stingers that may be extremely unpleasant to humans, they only kill a few individuals each year in Asia. Instead, populations across the United States pose the biggest danger to this invasive species.
Asian Giant Hornet Distribution and Habitat
The Asian gigantic hornet may be found all throughout Eastern Asia, including Korea, Taiwan, China, Indochina, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka, although they are most numerous in Japan’s highlands. They may be found in temperate and tropical woods at higher elevations, where there is abundant food and good nesting sites. A fertilized female (known as the queen) chooses a suitable protected place, such as a hollow tree trunk, and begins to construct a nest out of chewed-up bark. Wasp nests are made up of a sequence of solitary cells that form the well-known honeycomb effect.
Asian Giant Hornet Behaviour and Lifestyle
The fearless and very aggressive attitudes of Asian giant hornets are well-known, and they appear to prefer one species, in particular, the honey bee. Honey bee larvae are fed to Asian giant hornets’ young, and they have been known to totally destroy whole bee colonies in the process. Instead of utilizing their stinger, Asian giant hornets use their powerful mandibles to kill the defending bees with tremendous force and agility. One hornet is believed to be capable of tearing up to 40 honey bees in half per minute in order to get to what it wants (thus the term “murder hornet”). Asian giant hornets are social insects that work together to search for food, expand the nest, and care for the young within the colony. They are known as workers, although they do not reproduce because the queen is in charge of it.
Asian Giant Hornet Reproduction and Life Cycles
The fertilized queen, after constructing her nest in the spring, deposits a single egg in each cell, which hatches within a week. To mature into adults, Asian giant hornet larvae go through a five-stage transformation process known as metamorphosis. This takes around 14 days, after which the hive will have its first generation of workers, who will ensure that the colony is well-maintained as a whole. By late summer, the colony’s population had reached its height, with about 700 employees, the majority of whom are female. After then, the queen begins to lay fertilized (female) and non-fertilized (male) eggs. When the males reach adulthood, they leave the hive and typically die after mating. In the autumn, the workers and existing queens die out, allowing the young fertilized queens to survive the winter and restart the process the next spring.
Asian Giant Hornet Diet and Prey
The Asian giant hornet is a prominent predator in its habitat, preying mostly on other insects, especially bees. Larger insects, such as preying mantises and even other wasps and hornets, have been reported to be killed by Asian gigantic hornets. Adult Asian giant hornets are unable to digest solid proteins, thus they only consume their victims’ bodily fluids. They are also known to regurgitate their capture and give it to their larvae (especially honey bee larvae) in the form of a paste. The larvae then produce a transparent liquid, which the adults ingest and which is considered to provide them with a burst of energy. Asian giant hornets predominantly use their mandibles rather than their powerful stingers in order to secure their prey. Asian giant hornets predominantly use their mandibles rather than their powerful stingers in order to secure their prey.
Asian Giant Hornet Predators and Threats
The Asian giant hornet has no natural predators in its native habitats since it is an apex predator in its ecosystem. Humans are the greatest threat to the world’s largest wasp, owing to the fact that they are eaten as part of regular meals in the places where they are located. This is especially prevalent in the Japanese highlands when Asian giant hornet populations are at their peak. The Asian giant hornet’s populations are falling in some regions, despite its size and nasty temper. This is mostly due to deforestation, which has resulted in habitat loss. Honey bees in Eastern Asia are beginning to build their own defense against hornets, keeping them in their nest until the temperature gets too high for the big wasp to survive.
Asian Giant Hornet Interesting Facts and Features
The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is 1/4 inch long, and the Asian giant hornet may strike its prey several times since it lacks a barb. The stinger’s venom is extremely powerful, containing eight distinct compounds, each with its own function. These include tissue deterioration and breathing difficulties, as well as exacerbating the sting and attracting more hornets to the victim. The Asian giant hornet is a ruthless predator, with only a handful rumored to be capable of annihilating a 30,000+ Honeybee hive in a matter of hours. When the saliva generated by the larvae of the Asian giant hornet is ingested on a daily basis, it is claimed to give them their famed vigour and stamina. When pursuing their prey, they have been known to go up to 60 miles at a peak speed of 25 miles per hour.
Relationship with Humans
Surprisingly, individuals who live near the Asian giant hornet’s habitat consume these enormous and frightening insects. Some people eat the Asian gigantic hornet on a daily basis, and it’s usually deep-fried or served as hornet sushi. Despite the fact that the Asian giant hornet’s venom is extremely strong, it is only in rare situations when the victim is more vulnerable that the poison is the cause of death. In Japan alone, an estimated 40 individuals are killed each year by Asian giant hornet stings, although the majority of deaths are due to allergic responses, which are frequently the result of numerous stings.
Asian Giant Hornet Conservation Status and Life Today
If the circumstances around its existence do not alter, the Asian giant hornet is now designated as a species that is Threatened from extinction in the near future. Despite their dominance in their native habitats, Asian giant hornet populations are being seriously harmed by habitat loss, particularly deforestation, in some places.
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