See something out of the ordinary? Contact a licensed pest-control professional
Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, two words hit the headlines: “Murder Hornets.”
While the name makes for exciting press and horrifying hashtags, whipping up frenzied images of B-movie panic, it’s a misleading misnomer for this insect.
Native to Asia, especially Japan, the Asian giant hornet—Vespa mandarina—preys on honeybees, not people. The 2-inch-long, 3-inch-wingspan striped hornet was first spotted in the U.S. in Washington in December, with additional confirmed sightings in the state this summer.
The hornets pose a particular concern to U.S. bees, which are entirely unfamiliar with this aggressive predator that has made its way to our shores. While Asian bees have developed defensive moves, namely crowding and overheating the hornets, North American bees have not yet learned how to cope with this deadly invader that decimates their hives and, in turn, harms pollination of plants and crops.
While these husky hornets look menacing and can indeed cause human death by sting when they feel threatened—resulting in about 50 casualties a year—they are far from the most dangerous household pest. That title belongs to the tiny, annoying, unassuming-looking mosquito, which not only is the most deadly insect, but also may be responsible for about half the deaths of all human beings ever to live. Even common hornets, wasps, and bees cause approximately the same number of human deaths per year as the “murder hornet.”
But whether it’s a “murder hornet,” mosquito, or other type of pest, licensed professionals are trained to help keep you and your household safe. If you see something concerning flying around your house, be aware, but don’t be afraid: Licensees of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Structural Pest Control Board can help, so keep your distance and call a pest-control professional. Find out more about their services at www.pestboard.ca.gov and check a professional’s license at search.dca.ca.gov.
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