ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Attack of the Asian Giant Hornets

Updated on June 9, 2014
Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia)
Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) | Source

Though hornets make a valuable contribution by helping to keep insect populations in check, they've never received the kind of favourable treatment reserved for some their fellow flying stinging species. Beehives are usually preserved and treated as a precious resource, while hornet nests are often destroyed on sight.

Of course, the hornets have made it clear that they're not particularly fond of us either; and in the Far East, there's an even larger, more aggressive species of hornet to contend with. Measuring 50 mm in body length with 6 mm long stingers and a venom capable of dissolving human tissue; the Asian giant hornet has been especially prevalent in rural China of late.

Already responsible for an estimated 40 deaths a year in Japan, recent encounters with giant hornets in China have caused 41 fatalities and around 1675 injuries in the space of three months alone, leading the media to dub the species “giant killer hornet.”

Hornet Marauders

Wasp Feeds on a Mantis
Wasp Feeds on a Mantis | Source

Of course, human settlements aren't the only ones that need fear the giant killer hornet. An increase in hornet activity could have devastating impact on local honey bee populations, which would in turn have serious ramifications for the ecosystem as a whole.

The Asian giant hornet - which can fly at speeds of 40 km per hour - spends the day scouring the land for bee hives to raid. When a scout discovers a suitable target, it plants a pheromone at the entrance to summon reinforcements - the arrival of which will spell doom for the unfortunate bee colony. Honey bee stings are useless against their armoured bulk, and the hornet's powerful mandibles can tear through approximately 40 bees in a minute.

The result is a honey bee massacre, with a group of 30 or so giant hornets obliterating a colony of 30,000 bees in a matter of hours. Were the Asian giant hornet to be unleashed on European honey bee populations, the slaughter would be apocalyptic. The European honey bee has no means of defending itself against such rampant destruction.

Their Japanese cousins, on the other hand, have developed a cunning defence mechanism. Upon sensing the presence of a hornet scout, they immediately crowd together inside the entrance of the hive and await its approach. When the hornet enters to complete its reconnaissance, the bees suddenly swarm all over it and begin rapidly vibrating their wing muscles, encasing the intruder in a sheath of heat energy that gradually roasts it alive. The scout will tell no tales, and the bees dispose of it without expending their precious stingers.

Authorities Respond to Hornet "Epidemic"

Vespa mandarinia japonica
Vespa mandarinia japonica | Source

Of course, humans have a more straightforward method at their disposal: the flamethrower. In rural Ankang, the authorities wait for nightfall before setting out to exterminate the hornet nests, as the hornets will be inactive during this time. Around 248 nests were discovered in the township of Hongshan alone, many of which were in close proximity to schools and roads.

It's been suggested that the warmer temperatures have allowed a greater number of Asian giant hornets to survive the winter, bringing about a sudden increase in hornet population numbers. Frequent human incursions into formerly undisturbed rural areas have also been mentioned as a possible contributor to the rise in hornet activity.

Whatever the cause, Ankang officials have described the growing number of hornet-induced fatalities as “tantamount to an epidemic.” Between 2002 and 2005, hornet attacks in Ankang caused an average 36 deaths per year. The recent death toll has reached over twice that number.

One such victim was Yu Yihong, a farmer in Yuanba village who was stung to death after accidentally stepping on a hornet's nest; and in the Guangxi Zhuang region, 23 children and 7 adults were injured when a swarm of hornets attacked a primary school.

In Ankang, rice farmer Chen Changlin saw a cloud of hornets envelop a woman and child, who later died from the venom. He was himself pursued by the hornets for about 200 meters as he ran to get help.

Authorities are doing all they can to alleviate the crisis, and the Ankang government claims to have destroyed 710 hives in their attempts to reclaim the countryside from the rampaging hornet swarms.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • clairemy profile image


      4 years ago

      Very good article, I loathe the hornets in Italy, but they are pussycats compared to what you have described.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)