Opinion

Murder hornets could resurface in US this spring


Murder hornets buzzed off this winter in the US — but they may soon be back. 

The jumbo stingers from Asia could wreak havoc this spring as the weather warms and their queen bees emerge from underground — to start popping out babies, experts told The Post. 

“Only the queens survive the winter, and right now, any [hornet] hibernating won’t come out until it’s warm enough to do so, in mid-to-late April,” said Doug Yanega, a scientist at the Entomology Research Museum in California who has studied the hornets. 

“At that point, it’s just a queen by herself trying to raise a batch of offspring — and we don’t generally start seeing them until her workers start multiplying in May or June,” the scientist said.

“The population grows from there.” 

The first reported sighting of the big buggers in the country occurred in Blaine, Wash., in December 2019. The hornets are believed to have made their way to the US through Canada, after getting there from Asia.

They were sighted again last year in Washington state in May. The last time the hornets were officially noted in the US was when a nest was exterminated in Washington state in November, according to Washington state officials.

Scientists and volunteers in Washington are now planning to set up traps to try limit the vicious stingers to a small northwest corner of the state, experts said.

“They’re doing everything they can to track them down and wipe them out,” Yanega said of officials.

Known officially as Asian giant hornets, the insects can grow up to 2 inches long and are a threat to honey bees — which they can decapitate in seconds. 

The meat-eating hornets have even been known to kill up to 50 people a year in Japan.

Coyote Peterson, the host of an extreme-nature show, recently described to The Post what their sting felt like, calling it, “Searing pain! Absolute searing pain!”

Karla Salp of the Washington State Department of Agriculture told The Post last week that scientists still have some questions about the hornet’s behavior.

“[Murder hornets] are basically in the ground or trees over winter, and then they start emerging in the spring,” she said. “We don’t have data on when they emerge specifically. [But] our first sighting last year was in May.”

She declined to say what preventive measures her department is taking, saying it would be announced at a press conference Monday.

Some scientists said that based on past geographical data, it’s not likely that the hornets will invade other parts of the country.

“We don’t expect them to be good candidates for spreading quickly,” Yanega said. “There’s no expectation that they’ll move very far or very fast.”

But other experts have told The Post that it’s not a question of if but when they make it to the East Coast.


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