The species puts at risk the bee population in the USA, which have no natural defenses against the predator. Image: Elaine Thompson / POOL / AFP
American scientists wiped out the first Asian giant hornet nest found in the United States. The species poses a danger to both humans and other insects. It is estimated that about 40 people die each year in Asia, victims of stings from ‘killer’ wasps, which can also decimate a bee colony in a few hours.
The nest, found in Washington State, was located after experts placed trackers on wasps of the species, spotted for the first time in the region in 2019. About 200 wasps lived in the nest that was sucked by a vacuum hose on Saturday (24) . The tree where the insects were will still be cut to remove any other nests.
Asian giant wasps are among the largest wasps in the world, with queens of the species reaching over 5 centimeters in length. The entomologists, insect specialists, who did the nest removal in the U.S. were at risk in the operation, as the wasp stinger can pierce even the protective clothing used in the process.
The species with scientific name Mandarin wasp they are also known as “killer wasps”, have a powerful sting and can even “spit” poison. The main prey for wasps are bees in the USA, which have no natural defense mechanism against this predator. Wasps invade and occupy hives, kill adult bees and devour larvae and pupae.
The sting of Asian giant wasps is painful, but they only attack humans if they feel provoked or threatened. Even if a person is not allergic, if they suffer multiple bites they may not be able to resist the toxins released by the wasps and die. The Smithsonian museum in Washington estimates that 40 people die each year as victims of the species’ bites.
It is not known how the wasps arrived in the USA. Their habitat is in areas of Asia, mainly in China and Japan. But there were several sightings of killer wasps in North America in 2019. Canadians even destroyed a nest found on Vancouver Island in December last year.