ASIAN GIANT HORNET– Recently, the internet is all a buzz with concerns over the potential impact that the Asian Giant Hornet could have if it were to establish itself as an invasive species in North America. A few individual hornets were found in Washington and Canada and it sparks concern with bee keepers and farmers who know the importance that pollinators have on producing our crops.
The hornets are known to aggressively devastate bee hives. Zack Lemann is Curator of Animal Collections at Audubon Butterfly and Insectarium in New Orleans and says, “here you have a colony of wasps acting like a pack of wolves and killing an entire colony of honeybees that live together and they are extraordinarily efficient at it.”
The concern is understandable, when you consider that we are already dealing with a viral pandemic that has established itself. Also, news of the hornet comes after years of effort to regain the bee population. Back in 2006, a phenomenon known as the Colony Collapse Disorder, along with a parasitic species of mite that weaken honey bee immune systems, human caused widespread habitat loss and the use of pesticides created a perfect storm to pollinators as a whole. Now, with the possibility of “Murder” hornets, should we be worried?
Many of academics over the past couple of days agree on the stance that the hornet is not an immediate threat; instead the coronavirus is. Entomologist Zack Lemann believes that with historically the Asian Hornet has lived in low-forested-mountainous regions and says, “even if Washington State got overrun with giant hornets, which I don’t think will happen, It wouldn’t cross the great plains and it wouldn’t go down into the subtropics. I would say that we certainly shouldn’t be sounding an alarm. What we should be doing is paying attention to what has been found in Washington and figuring out, whether it is problematic and has the potential to become problematic.”
Asia has had bees for thousands of years that have had to exist along side hornets. However, asian honeybees have an ability to surround the hornet in a ball of bees and raise the temperature and carbon-dioxide to literally cook the bee. Sometimes this tactic works, sometimes it doesn’t but hose species have evolved together. If the hornets do get the better of the hive, they behead the adult worker bees and carry off the bee larvae to feed their own larvae waiting in their nest at the base of a tree. For the time beeing, that fate is not a reality. Currently researchers are studying the few hornet specimens found in North America to see if there is an actual breeding colony.
It’s good to know that for now, we don’t have an added on plague. The pandemic is surely enough.