The Asian giant hornet is, as the name suggests, from Asia. The two inch long insects, scientifically known as Vespa velutina, kill an average of 50 people a year. So strong is the sting of a murder hornet and packed with so much venom, a person can die within minutes of being stung, if they are allergic.
Now, scientists have some bad news after revealing that Asian giant hornets could spread across the globe if they pick the right climate.
Asian giant hornets do sometimes pop up in the UK, US and Europe, but are usually eradicated when reported.
However, the situation could get out of hand if the insects managed to get a stronghold in a new environment.
Scientists from Washington State University (WSU) have shown that the climates of certain places in the US, as well as Europe, are the perfect breeding ground for hornets.
The analysis of the scientists was based on the climates and habitats of the insect’s native regions – Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
Asian giant hornets are most likely to survive in warmer climates, with a the highest temperature they can survive in being around 38 degrees Celsius (102F).
They can spread by flying, albeit slowly, according to the research which found they can travel around 68 miles a year, but they mainly spread through accidental human transportation such as in cargo ships or planes.
Lead author Gengping Zhu, a postdoctoral scholar at WSU’s Department of Entomology, said: “We found many suitable climates in the US and around the globe.”
WSU entomologist Javier Illan added: “These predictions are scientific sleuthing.
“We’re making an educated guess on how fast and far these insects can move, their rate of success in establishing a nest, and offering different scenarios, from least bad to worst.
“No one has done this before for this species.”
Washington State Department of Agriculture scientist Chris Looney said: “It’s easy for some species to get moved accidentally from one side of the country to the other, even if there’s a large swathe of unacceptable habitat in between.”
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Asian giant hornets are a huge problem for the already dwindling bee population of Europe and the US.
If they make their way into a bees nest, they will kill everything inside and eat all the resources.
According to the researchers, the new study could help beekeepers protect against a potential invasion.
WSU entomologist David Crowder said: “Preventing the establishment and spread of Asian giant hornet in western North America is critical for protecting bees and beekeepers.
“Our study can inform strategies to monitor and eradicate these invaders before they become established.”
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