GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — While there have been multiple reports of Asian giants hornets attacking beehives in Washington, it will be years before they spread to the Midwest, according to a board certified entomologist.
Dubbed “Murder Hornets” by researchers, the species has a venomous sting that can kill a human if they are stung several times.
“These things are apex predators,” Mark VanderWerp, a board certified entomologist with Rose Pest Solutions, told FOX 17 Tuesday. "There is no wasp that you're going to run into that's bigger or better than these things."
VandenWerp says the hornets have been reported to kill between 20 and 50 people a year in Asia.
Now the hornets are being spotted in North America, and beekeepers are worried.
VanderWerp told FOX 17, “They can apparently take apart a beehive in a matter of hours, which is amazing, because of a honeybee hive can have tens of thousands of workers. And so you basically get a gang of these Asian giant hornets showing up, and they can kill a honeybee -- one about every 14 seconds.”
They are also strong enough to potentially puncture a beekeeper’s protective suit.
Luckily, for those of us living in the Midwest, VanderWerp says it will likely take decades before the hornets spread to our neck of the woods.
“As far as us in the Great Lakes region, we really don't have anything to worry about for the foreseeable future,” VanderWerp said. "So, even if this thing does establish in the western U.S., it will be many, many years before we see them over here."
He says we may even be able to eradicate the species before they settle permanently.
“Right now is that kind of magical window where eradication is a real possibility," he said. "And so it may be that they never get here. They may never get established in North America. If they do establish, it's a total guess of how fast they'll spread."
But VanderWerp says you might see another insect in your backyard that can easily be mistaken for one of the murder hornets.
“I’m willing to almost guarantee you someone's gonna call in and say, hey, I've got this Asian giant hornet in my yard, and they're gonna see cicada killers instead,” he said. The Eastern cicada killer looks very similar to the Asian giant hornet. “It's a native. They're not aggressive at all. They're not terribly beneficial or detrimental. Either way, they will sometimes burrow holes in people's yards that people don't like."