Murder Hornets Present a Major Threat, But It's Not What You Think

Here's the surprising effect these giant hornets could have on our lives.

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You probably thought things couldn't get any worse than they've been for the past couple of months, right? Well, enter "murder hornets." These giant insects, which come from Japan and Korea, have just arrived in North America. And they boast a far more venomous and painful sting than, say, the European honey bee that most Americans are accustomed to. The good news is that murder hornets, AKA V. mandarinia, will largely leave you alone, as long as you leave them alone. But the real threat murder hornets present is that they could cause a food shortage in the U.S. in the coming months.

According to Tim Lawrence, PhD, associate professor at Washington State University and a beekeeper for over 50 years, murder hornets pose a major threat to a critical population of bees. Lawrence says that 30 to 50 murder hornets can take out 30,000 to 50,0000 bees within a couple of hours. "Then they enter the colony and they consume the baby bees … to feed their young," he says.

Gross? Sure. But why is that so alarming? Because honey bees play a critical role in the American food industry via cross-pollination.  According to Bayer Health, "More than $15 billion worth of crops are pollinated by bees each year. In the United States, honey bees perform most of the insect pollination, with help from other pollinators like ants, bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths, and wasps."

 

Given the current food supply issues caused by the coronavirus, American farmers cannot afford another reason for concern. But that's exactly the situation they find themselves in. "Between late summer and fall, V. mandarinia workers may band together to conduct mass attacks on nests of other social insects, notably honeybees. This behavior even has a name: the slaughter and occupation phase," Scientific American recently pointed out. "U.S. beekeepers supply billions of honeybees each year to help pollinate at least 90 agricultural crops. And they are worried that this new raider could further worsen already deep losses in important pollinator populations."

So, just as we hope to be returning to some level of normalcy, there might be a swarm of hornets killing off bees and thus, killing off our food supply to worry about. And for more ways you can help the earth, avoid these 21 Habits That Are Bad for the Environment.

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