Vespa mandarinia, or the ‘murder hornet’, was first spotted in North America in 2019. Alastair Macewen/Getty Images


Native to Japan, the Asian giant hornet known colloquially as the “murder hornet” arrived in Washington State in December 2019. Recently, the murder hornet has become a viral topic of discussion in media and pop culture.

Feared for their extraordinarily painful sting, murder hornets kill about 50 humans per year worldwide. Entomologists have stated that the threat posed by these giant hornets is manageable and can be mitigated by taking the necessary steps to locate and eradicate hornet colonies, noting that nationwide spread is unlikely. Some states have implemented the use of traps to catch the hornets if they do begin to move west of Washington. Experts have also raised concerns about other similar insects being killed in a case of mistaken identity, which could ultimately harm the overall environment. 

The giant hornet preys on honeybees, which contribute to a significant portion of food supply chains for humans. Just a handful of Asian giant hornets can quickly destroy an entire colony of honeybees. The question of how to defend American bee populations that have not yet adopted a defense mechanism for combating these types of attacks began to trend in media.


Monstrous ‘murder hornets’ have reached the US – LiveScience – 5/5/20
Massive, deadly hornets affectionately known as “murder hornets” “hornets from h*ll” and “yak-killer hornets,” have been spotted in the U.S. for the first time. These Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) are the size of your thumb; they’re orange-headed and orange-striped; and they’re extremely pointy at the back end.

Praying mantises will save us all from murder hornets – CNET – 5/8/20
They are 2 inches long and can sting through protective beekeeping suits. Their venom is equivalent to that of a venomous snake, and they can sting multiple times. […] But thankfully, a savior has arrived. It seems another insect could be a big threat to Asian giant hornets — the praying mantis. In a video that went viral on social media this week, a praying mantis not only attacks a murder hornet, but chomps on its brains.

Panicked over ‘murder hornets,’ people are killing native bees we desperately need – Los Angeles Times – 5/8/20
“Millions and millions of innocent native insects are going to die as a result of this,” Yanega said today. “Folks in China, Korea and Japan have lived side by side with these hornets for hundreds of years, and it has not caused the collapse of human society there. My colleagues in Japan, China and Korea are just rolling their eyes in disbelief at what kind of snowflakes we are.” 

Despite ‘murder hornet’ panic mosquitos are the real ‘murder’ bug, experts say – The Sun – 5/11/20
“The scariest insect out there are mosquitoes. People don’t think twice about them. If anyone’s a murder insect, it would be a mosquito.” […] Experts are arguing that there is a lot of hype in the nickname that isn’t really warranted, calling the public reaction to the murder hornets the same as the 1970s Africanized “killer bee” panic that happened when they started moving north from South America.


Doug Oster on Twitter, 5/11/20: Get the real story about the Asian Giant Hornet (Murder Hornet). Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as bad as you think. Expert Steve Repasky from @beecontrolpitts joins The Organic Gardener Radio Show. #MurderHornets#gardeningisnotcancelled

WTKR News on Twitter, 5/11/20: ‘Murder Hornet’ discovered in Washington now has entomologists scrambling to eradicate it

LEX 18 News on Twitter, 5/11/20: The key for entomologists right now is to eradicate the Asian Giant Hornets before they get established. While they’re laser-focused on that and deeply concerned, they’re encouraging people to remain calm.

David Leavitt on Twitter, 5/11/20: Locust Swarms Because Murder Hornets werent scary enough

CBS This Morning on Twitter, 5/11/20: Insect experts say people should calm down about the big bug with the nickname “murder hornet” – unless you are a beekeeper or a honeybee.

There's depth. And then there's in-depth.

To get beyond the news and receive actionable intelligence about this topic or thousands more, simply enter your email address below.

You May Also Like