When we were all hiding out during the pandemic, it seemed like every other week we had a new disaster coming out. Do we not all remember when the clowns were coming out of the woods at night? As if we were not dealing with enough with Covid-19, here came another plague; Murder Hornets. And in my short time so far here in Seminole County, I get a lot of questions on them.
Firstly, where do these flying beasts even come from? The Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) are a species of hornet that comes out of the South Asia. We have a pretty good track record of where they come from and how they get here in the first place from our port security services. The port authority’s in California and Washington state inspect all cargo that is delivered and remain vigilant for invasive species. Because of their diligence and attention to details, these pests have not been able to arrive in the masses as we fear. There are records of murder hornets in cargo ships from 2016 and before.
Just how are these hornets different than normal hornets you might ask? For starters, they are absolutely huge for a wasp of any kind. Coming it at roughly 2 inches long, they look like a yellow bullet coming at you. Their body is a cloudy shade of yellow and brown stripes, similar to some species here locally. Often, people will mistake the common bald-faced hornet (smaller with a mostly black body) and the cicada killer (smaller with a mostly yellow body) for them. These 2 wasps are pretty big, but come in at about half the size of a murder hornet. If you see one in real life, there will be no confusing it with anything else.
These hornets are ferocious killers of other insects too. They have been found killing honey bees to feed to their own larvae. Although I have never experienced the sting of one, I can only imagine it would be enough to make any man cry. If they got much bigger and aggressive, the state department would have to issue an open season on them.
Luckily for us here in the southern part of the country, these pests are of no concern. I know many of you have seen big wasp and think it’s a murder hornet, but it isn’t. Murder hornets have been confined to Washington state so far. Hopefully we can keep it that way! So, the next time you see a wasp, rest easy knowing it’s just a common species here. Still kill it though! If you have a cool insect, give me a call here at the extension office and we can get it identified. Stay safe out there.