You've probably already heard about them. Two inches of winged death known as murder hornets (scientifically known as Vespa mandarinia), killing not just honeybees but human beings! Sounds like the start of a SyFy Channel movie, right? Well, it isn't.
But are they really cause for concern for folks in Polk County?
According to Any Vu, a University of Florida Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab Coordinator, there isn't. Vu says that these giant Asian insects, which were found in a small quantity in Washington in November 2019, are being monitored and have yet to be found elsewhere.
Life Cycle of the Hornet
We at J.P.'s Termite & Pest Control Inc. are, of course, ready to act if these little buggers make their way toward Polk County. What we do know about hornets is that their life cycles start in April. The queen first leaves her hibernation and begins to feed on the fruit and sap of plants. At this point, they are also on the lookout for underground spots that are ideal for constructing their nests.
It really is not until the late summer that you need to start worrying about hornets. That is when they come out in force, launching raids on honeybee nests. They will slaughter the adult bees and consume their pupae and larvae. Yes, we know, that is pretty brutal, especially since honeybees are essential for farmers to grow crops like blueberries, cherries, and apples. So hornets often pose a bigger threat to crops than to people.
One cool fact about murder hornets is that they are the only type of social wasp to mark its food source with its scent as a way to direct its colony toward the food.`While murder hornets are jerks, they're really smart jerks.
What Happens When They Sting You
We're not going to lie - hornet stings hurt. If you get stung by a murder hornet, you will feel like someone is stabbing you with a blistering hot needle. Oh, and the pain? That could last a few days. The area around the sting site will swell and be achy for up to two days. This happens with a normal hornet's sting, but murder hornet stings are even more intensely painful.
These hornets release a neurotoxin called mandaratoxin that is about 7 times more potent than the neurotoxin found in the honeybee. Medical officials in China have advised people to seek emergency medical treatment if stung more than 30 times by a murder hornet. Hornets will sting you in a flurry, so it is possible to get stung that many times.
Most people who have died from murder hornet stings have gone into cardiac arrest or anaphylactic shock. Some have experienced multiple organ failure, and all victims showed signs of necrosis and hemorrhaging of the skin.
How They Got to North America?
How exactly did these guys make it to North America anyway? They have only been found in a very small number in Washington State, and insects are known to travel great lengths. But from Japan and China to the US?! That sure is a long way to fly.
Right now, scientists are unsure as to how the murder hornet made it to Washington. In November 2019, beekeepers in the area found piles of dead honeybees with their heads ripped off. With the honeybee population on the decline, this was a truly alarming discovery.
One theory about how they got into the US is that they must have traveled via international cargo from somewhere in Japan or China and survived the trip.
For now, you are most likely safe from the wrath of a murder hornet, despite what Internet memes might tell you. If you do have any sort of hornet problems, just call on J.P.'s Termite & Pest Control Inc., and we will be there to help.
Should you require services that are affordable, environmentally-safe, and applied to your property by experienced and knowledgeable professionals, contact us here at J.P.'s Termite & Pest Control Inc. and receive $25 off your first service. Serving all of Polk County, we strive to provide the very best customer service for each and every one of our customers. If you need professional pest control to rid your yard of mosquitoes and other pests, contact us here at J.P.'s Termite & Pest Control Inc. by calling 863-581-2104 today to schedule your free pest inspection.
In 1999, I decided to start my own pest control business so I could have more flexibility in order to be involved in my sons' sporting activities (and to be able to fish when I wanted to). Twenty years later, I'm proud to have my sons working with me helping grow the company!