A ‘Sting’ Operation: Viral Video not a Murder Hornet According to Expert, What to Look for Instead

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Many Americans have been buzzing with anxiety over the national news that Asian Giant Hornets, dubbed by researchers as “murder hornets”, have been discovered on the western coast of the United States for the first time ever. Some may be wondering how long it will take for the invasive insect to make its way to Kentucky. With Summer (as well as plenty of flying bugs) quickly approaching, it’s important to know how to correctly identify an Asian Giant Hornet.

Perhaps the most obvious feature of these particular hornets is their size. The Asian Giant Hornet has been recorded to reach lengths of around two inches. “Murder hornets” are also visually distinct from others as they are bright orange in color with black striped markings on their bodies. Other visible features include wings similar to those of dragonflies and jagged pincers on its face. These pincers are used to kill honeybee colonies, which the hornet preys upon. This is one of the threats that the newly-introduced insect poses to the United States, where European honey bees are managed and used by beekeepers to pollinate many crops.

UK’s Department of Entomology has already received dozens of phone calls from concerned Kentuckians, following the upload of a video that has gone locally viral, claiming that the insect had been discovered South of Louisville. In the video, a man holds up what he believes is an Asian Giant Hornet in a freezer bag.

To determine if the video had any merit, WBON-TV spoke to University of Kentucky professor Rick Bessin, an extension entomologist. Bessin told us that he has responded to dozens of calls recently concerning the video. Bessin says that all the pictures he has received from the video in question actually depict a European hornet, which is indigenous to Kentucky and of much less cause for concern. He does add that if you do have any specimens that you want looked at by an expert, to send pictures to your county’s extension office.

People are urged not to interact with the menacing hornet if they encounter them, as they do pose a legitimate threat to humans with the amount of venom they are able to deliver in an attack. Unlike some bees, which are only capable of a single sting, the Giant Asian Hornet can sting multiple times with their stinger, delivering large amounts of venom. The insect has been known to cause death of its victims in Japan.

Even if you are not allergic, run away immediately if you come face-to-face with a Giant Asian Hornet and report it to the Madison County extension office as soon as possible by calling 859-623-4072.