Researchers address concerns surrounding the “murder hornet”

State - Regional

PIEDMONT, SC (WSPA)– You’ve no doubt heard about the Giant Asian Hornets, which have reportedly been found attacking bee hives in Washington State.

However, Clemson entomologist said the hornet is not in South Carolina, and there’s little to no harm for humans. They said their biggest concern is for honeybees, and beekeepers are just as concerned.

“This hornet is from Asia and it’s not known to be in North America until last September. It was discovered on Vancouver Island in Canada. And then a dead individual hornet was found in Washington State,” said Eric Benson, Extension Entomologist at Clemson University.

Researchers have nicknamed it, the ‘murder hornet’. Entomologist said it poses no more of a threat to people than any other native bees or wasps.

According to scientist, the hornet is big. They are five times larger than a honey bee, and they may feed on many other insects, especially social bees.

“It’s mainly a predator of bees and other insect. And murder hornet is a very unfortunate term. It does not murder people,” Benson said.

Other researchers do say because its venomous sting, it can kill a human if they are stung several times.  Since scientist believe the hornets do post a threat to honey bee colonies, some beekeepers might be concerned.

“It’s another something to look out for I guess. If an Asian Hornet got in this hive they can completely devastated it in the matter of two to four hours,” said Keith Raines, President of Anderson County Beekeepers Association.

Researchers said the more than two inches in length insect hasn’t been spotted in South Carolina.

“It is not in South Carolina. It has never been in South Carolina. And the chances of it coming to South Carolina anytime soon, is about zero,” Benson said.

They said some people may confuse the giant hornet with cicada killers, baldfaced hornets, or an European hornet. According to research, all of these wasps are large, but they are not as large or intimidating as the Asian giant hornet.

Instead, avid beekeepers said people should turn their attention to something else.

“Actually being stung by a yellow jacket is the biggest problem in late summer to fall. That’s the main concern as far as what people should be concerned about,” Raines said.

“If hundreds of them come out of a nest because they feel threatened if you got close to it, that’s far more dangerous than this hornet is…that doesn’t exist in South Carolina,” Benson said.

So how can you tell the difference between an Asian giant hornet, honey bees, yellow jackets and a European hornet?

“Honeybees are about a half inch long in total and very fuzzy.  Yellow jackets, there’s a whole host of yellow jackets in different sizes, but they’re mostly yellow and black in coloration,” Benson said.

Benson said a European hornet is the largest hornet in South Carolina and they can get up to an inch to an inch in a half.

As researchers are working behind the scenes to monitor the ‘murder hornet’, Upstate entomologist wants you to be careful.

“Anytime you see something that could sting you, or looks dangerous, avoid it!” Benson said.

However, as of now, they want everyone to know there’s nothing to fear.

“The Asian Giant Hornet, don’t worry about it. It’s not in South Carolina. It’s not going to be in South Carolina anytime soon,” Benson added.

If you are concerned about the difference between the insects, you can reach out to the Clemson Extension Office at 1-888-656-9988.

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