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Asian Giant Hornets found in the United States

Posted at 6:22 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 19:22:58-04

APPLETON, Wis (NBC 26) -- Asian Giant Hornets, or what is also being called Murder Hornets have just been discovered for the first time in Washington state. Tonight some scientists are saying the non-native hornets could decimate honey bee populations that are currently struggling.

For nearly two decades scientists have noticed that honey bee colonies have been struggling. Scientists say that the problem is in part due to viruses, parasites and climate change. On Monday an Associate Professor of Biology shared how the bees in northeast Wisconsin, aren't fairing any better.

"Just like everywhere else in the world honey bee populations are in serious trouble," says Israel Del Toro, an entomologist at Lawrence University.

Del Toro says about one in every three pieces of food we eat are dependent on pollinators like honey bees. That's why hearing about the arrival of Asian giant hornets in Washington state caught his attention.

"The giant hornets basically are capable of decimating honey bee populations," says Del Toro.

The Asian giant hornet can grow up to two inches long, which is about five times larger than a honey bee. They also are said to have one of the most painful stings in the insect world. And Del Toro says a handful of the hornets are capable of taking out a whole colony of bees.

"They do it in the most gruesome ways possible. They actually go into the hive and decapitate and dismember those different honey bees. Then the hornet uses their body parts to feed to their larvae."

The good news is there haven't been any reports of Asian giant hornets in Wisconsin yet and also the fact that scientists believe they discovered their presence in the US early.

"What we can hope happens here is that government agencies like the USDA are able to track this new non-native species and eradicate it before it becomes a problem and spreads throughout the US," adds Del Toro.

So do what you can to support your honey bee populations while you can. Because as Del Toro explains by doing so you might be giving them a fighting chance of survival from the hornets grasp, down the road.

"The bees themselves can defend themselves against this invasive species. It's just a matter of making sure our populations are strong enough."