The Asian giant hornet, including the subspecies Japanese giant hornet colloquially known as the yak-killer hornet, is the world’s largest hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia. The Asian giant hornets prefer to live in low mountains and forests, while almost completely avoiding plains and high-altitude climates. Their hierarchy is based on their ability to reproduce and hence is divided as the reproductive queens and sterile soldiers and workers. The Asian Giant Hornets live for about 3-5 months. It takes a larvae 14 days to become a full grown adult. Generally a colony holds 700 Asian Giant Hornets, and the majority of workers are females. The queen lays fertilized female eggs and unfertilized male eggs, and the adult males leave the hive and die after mating. Regardless of sex, the hornet’s head is a light shade of orange and its antennae are brown with a yellow-orange base. Its eyes and ocelli are dark brown to black. V. mandarinia is distinguished from other hornets by its pronounced clypeus and large genae. Its orange mandible contains a black tooth that it uses for digging. Asian Giant Hornets can grow as large as 2 inches long with a wingspan of 76mm. They are approximately five times larger than the average honey bee, and their 6mm long stinger is filled with venom. This venom contains a neurotoxin called mandaratoxin. A single sting may potentially cause internal organ damage as well as large welts in the skin.
The Asian Giant Hornet can wipe out bee hives and colonies within hours. In one day alone, the Asian Giant Hornet can fly up to 100km at 40 km/h allowing it to quickly fly towards their victim. In fact, it takes less than 50 Asian Giant Hornets to take down a colony of tens of thousands of bees. Additionally, a single hornet is able to kill 40 honey bees per minute. Essentially, the hornet uses its mandibles and decapitates their victims. This is leading to decline in the population of honey bees. The poor honey bee is nearly helpless against the hornets. Furthermore, the Asian Giant Hornet attacks are a growing concern for beekeepers in the Eastern Asian regions and some beekeepers in Europe. Honey bees are a vital component of our ecosystems and with the growing decline in the honey bee population we would no longer have fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and much more.
In the recent times the Asian giant hornet is said to have made its way to Britain where it is threatening the population of the European honey bees as these honey bees don’t stand a chance against the deadly hornets. Considering that the prime victims of these hornet attacks are our most important pollinators i.e. bees, the mayhem that they cause needs to be controlled!
Let us look at some news articles pertaining to the damage caused by these Asian Giant Hornets.
Threat to honeybees as Asian hornet’s arrival on UK mainland confirmed
September 20 2016, the guardian, UK
The Asian hornet’s long-feared arrival on the UK mainland has been confirmed, government scientists have said, with ecologists warning of dire consequences for honeybees if the species is not swiftly eliminated.
The hornets eat honeybees and have become widespread in central and southern France, prompting warnings in recent years that they could arrive in the UK via potted plants from France.
While not considered a threat to humans, the arrival of the hornets add to the woes of Britain’s honeybees, which are vital for pollination of many crops but have been suffering declines for decades.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Tuesday that it had a confirmed sighting of an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire. Officials said efforts were already under way to destroy the invasive species, using cameras and traps to locate nests before attempting to kill them off with pesticides.
Nicola Spence, Defra’s deputy director for plant and bee health, said: “We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian hornet for some years and have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.
“It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognize the damage they can cause to honeybee colonies. That’s why we are taking swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests.”
Matt Shardlow, the chief executive of the charity Bug life, said: “It’s really bad news. The ecological impact is that it potentially affects our ability to feed ourselves in the future.
“In terms of threats to people, as long as it doesn’t reach ridiculous levels of abundance, which it will struggle to do because there is not enough prey here for it, then it shouldn’t really add risk in terms of number of people who die from wasp stings.”
C Tech Corporation with the aid of green technology and great vision, has designed the product Termirepel™ that can aid in the protection of honey bees from these vicious hornets. Termirepel ™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous insect and pest aversive. Basically designed to combat termites, it works effectively against a multitude of other insects including wasps and hornets.
Termirepel™ works by the mechanism of repellence by virtue of which it does not allow the insect/pest to come near the application and thus it negates the possibility of an infestation. Moreover it is available in the form of polymer compatible masterbatches as well as in lacquer form to be applied on wood and other furniture. Thus it is easy to apply and safe to use. Also since it is non-toxic it will not cause any harm to the non-target species like bees.