As if 2020 couldn't get any worse. In addition to dealing with a worldwide pandemic, parts of Canada are now facing "murder hornets." If those sound scary, it's because they are.

There had been reports as early as September 2019 of Asian giant hornets showing up in British Columbia.

While the provincial government said the first nest was destroyed, more of the hornets have been seen this year. The insects have also now been spotted in Washington state.

The New York Times detailed the work of Conrad Bérubé, a Nanaimo beekeeper who eliminated the nest.

While he took great care in doing his job, wearing shorts and sweatpants underneath a beekeeping suit, the hornets were still able to sting him, and it sounds awful.

"It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh," Bérubé told the Times. He said the stings were the most painful thing he has ever experienced.

The insects were dubbed "murder hornets" in entomological circles due to the fact that numerous stings from them can be fatal to humans. Enough stings can produce the same amount of venom as a snake bite.

British Columbia's government is warning people to be on the lookout for these hornets as they will start emerging soon.

They are roughly 3.5 centimetres in length with large mandibles that they use to decapitate honey bees.

They have large orange heads and black eyes.

While bees in Japan have figured out a way to defend themselves from the hornets, by essentially vibrating around them and cooking them to death, North American honey bees likely won't know how to do this.

The government's release notes that the hornets are often found in wooded areas, and are likely to be nesting close to the Canada-US border.

Anyone who thinks they might have seen one of these hornets or found a nest is urged to call it in to the Invasive Species Council of BC at 1 888 933-3722.

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