By BELA PATEL
Published May 27, 2020
Asian giant hornets, known by some as murder hornets, have been spotted in the U.S., and while they’re being featured across many news stations, the presence of these hornets is not as deadly as some may think.
According to Business Insider, these hornets span up to two inches long and have extremely long stingers that contain a deadly venom. Annually, hornets kill up to 50 people a year in Japan, and as a result, people all around the U.S. have become concerned with their presence. While concern over the presence of the new invasive species is warranted, the panic and fear of the species invading should not be.
“Our particular concern is their threat to bees since bees perform so many important ecosystem services for humans and bees are already under threat due to many other environmental factors,” AP Environmental Science teacher Jason Maas-Baldwin says.
Since these giant hornets hunt and kill honeybees, main pollinators, it can negatively impact ecosystems and lead to less pollination.
“Farmers and all of society rely on bees to pollinate our crops and maintain our food system,” Maas-Baldwin continues.
It not only can impact the crops and plants in our ecosystems, but it can disrupt the food chain, with fewer plants for some to feed off and fewer bees for predators to hunt.
Jack Connolly, a senior at CHS and certified California Naturalist since May 2018, developed a passion for studying and collecting insects after being introduced by Pat Stadille, a teacher at Carmel Middle School. Connolly agrees with Maas-Baldwin and says that a decline in the bee population could greatly harm our ecosystems locally and nationally. He also says any invasive species can be seen as a threat to the environment because they are new to the environment and creatures around it have not yet adapted to being hunted by new predators.
Although Connolly believes the hornets can become a bigger threat to society, he speculates that they should not be seen as a threat at the moment.
“The huge amount of media attention around these hornets is likely doing way more harm than good,” says the naturalist. “The reaction by the public and the media has been completely blown out of proportion, causing even more fear and uncertainty during these strange times.”
There has been a limited number of sightings, and the hornet does not present much threat to humans or the environment at the moment. If there were a larger number of murder hornets found and seen in the U.S., it would be a bigger threat.
Connolly suspects the invasive species was unintentionally introduced to new ecosystems through ships travelling around the globe without taking proper precautions.
In the improbable event that you come into contact with a murder hornet, be cautious, leave it alone and keep your distance. In any instance, it would be recommended not to attack it, just ignore it.