News

Oh Good, the Murder Hornets Are in Canada Now

The massive hornets are an apex predator and experts are worried about their impact on the ecosystem if they were to set up shop in North America.
May 29, 2020, 4:38pm
Last week, in Langley B.C., a woman came face to face with a massive hornet, but not just any ol’ hornet. This was an Asian giant hornet—a “murder hornet,” as you've probably come to know them in recent weeks.
Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney displays a dead Asian giant hornet, bottom, a sample sent from Japan and brought in for research, next to a native bald-faced hornet collected in a trap on May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Washington. (Photo by ELAINE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week, in Langley B.C., a woman came face to face with a massive hornet, but not just any ol’ hornet. This was an Asian giant hornet—a “murder hornet,” as you've probably come to know them in recent weeks.

The woman did what most humans would/should do in the situation and sent that murder hornet straight to hell with a well-placed stomp. The dead beast was then sent to the provincial government, which confirmed it indeed was one of the big bugs. In response to this discovery, B.C.'s provincial apiculturist, Paul van Westendorp, wrote to Fraser Valley beekeepers to remain vigilant.

“Until now, the only confirmed cases on the mainland included a single specimen in White Rock and two specimens near Blaine, Washington,” says the letter posted on Facebook by one B.C. beekeeper.

According to the letter, the finding might mean that the hornets may have established more nests in the area. “It is expected that more sightings will be reported in the coming months. As nests increase in size, AGH is expected to increase its predation on honeybees,” the letter says.

Van Westendorp urged the area’s beekeepers to quickly report any sightings of the murder hornets. That's easier said than done, though; the hornets nest underground in forests so their nests tend to go undiscovered.

The name murder hornet doesn't come from their aptitude for killing humans (although it can do that too) but more so for its ability to decimate bee colonies. Just a few of the murder hornets can destroy an entire honey bee nest. So it's easy to see how, with an already declining bee population in North America, having the bee murderers set up shop here wouldn’t be great. Van Westendorp told the Globe and Mail the discovery may show the hornets having more of a foothold in Canada than previously thought. VICE has reached out to Van Westendorp for comment and will update if we hear back.

Asian giant hornets are an apex predator in the insect world and target honey bees. The flying insects from hell can grow up to 2 inches, have massive mandibles and a big venomous stinger, and are aggressive. Their venom is potent enough that a sting could kill you but most experts say it would most likely take multiple stings to drop you, though. They're territorial so if you mess with their nests, things could go downhill quickly. Murder hornets typically kill up to 50 people in Japan every year.

All in all, they're not something you want to mess around with.

Scientists said the hornets probably hopped a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. and are doing what they can to make sure the hornets don’t get a foothold in North America. Apiarists (a fancy term for beekeeper) say that, while a full-on infestation in North America would do a number on the ecosystem, there have, thankfully, only been a few sightings so far.

That said, this isn’t the only time the murder hornetr has raised its ugly head in Canada. In 2019 a nest was found on Vancouver Island, in Nanaimo. Experts quickly destroyed the nest but it seems they may not have gotten them all.

We must be vigilant, Canada. We must be vigilant of the murder hornets.

Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.