Invasive species can make life hard for other animals. Often they pose either a predatory threat or they consume resources that are needed to sustain biodiversity. This is unfortunately now happening in Canada's westernmost province. Asian Giant Hornets have started appearing in Canada, specifically in B.C., and they pose a real threat to honey bee colonies.

So far, three Asian giant hornets (vespa mandarinia) have been found, all of them in Nanaimo. While that's not a lot, their presence could indicate more to come. Asian giant hornets are not known to attack humans or go after food, as they are mostly just predators for other insects. Chief among their prey are honey bees.

Asian giant hornets are known to attack and destroy entire honey bee colonies within a very short period of time, making them incredibly dangerous to any colonies in B.C. Honey bees in Asia have learned how to deal with the hornets. They will surround the attacking insect and start vibrating, which generates heat. This essentially cooks the hornet and kills it. However, Canadian honey bees would likely not know to do this as they do not encounter attacks from this species.

Although insects are beginning to enter their dormant state for the winter, experts are still concerned about the presence of the hornets in B.C. They have urged anyone who sees one to report their findings to the Invasive Species Council of B.C.

Canada has already had problems with different insect species showing up due to climate change and other factors. Previously this meant more mosquito species that were capable of carrying West Nile and other diseases.

Asian giant hornets are roughly 3.5 centimetres in length and can be recognized by their orange heads and black eyes. While they look similar to other wasp and hornet species, they are the only ones that pose a threat to local honey bee populations. Unlike other hornet and wasp species, they build their nests on the ground.

Anyone who is stung by one of these hornets should apply ice to the area immediately and avoid rubbing or scratching as it can spread the venom further. They typically will ignore humans, however, and will only become aggressive if their hives are disturbed.

Disclaimer: Cover photo on the right used for illustrative purposes only.

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