Experts warn U.S. should be on alert for Asian Giant Hornets, also known as "murder hornets"
Some have jokingly labeled 2020 as the year of the apocalypse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that experts also report the looming threat of an infestation of deadly hornets, some are beginning to wonder if the seemingly extreme misnomer is actually an appropriate label for 2020.
According to CNN, Asian giant hornets, insects with freakishly large eyes and venomous stings, have been spotted in the USA for the first time.
Scientists say the insects were seen in Washington state. Beekeepers there reported piles of dead bees with their heads ripped off.
The culprits, Asian hornets, are more than two inches long and their sting that can kill humans if stung multiple times, hence their nickname, "murder hornets."
"They're like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face," Susan Cobey, a bee breeder at the Washington State University's department of entomology, said recently
At this point, scientists aren't sure how the bees ended up in the U.S., but some suspect they may have made their way to the states via international cargo.
Washington state agricultural officials are asking beekeepers and residents to report any sightings of the giant hornets.
But they're also warning residents not to get too close to the insects as an Asian hornet's sting can penetrate a regular beekeeper's suit.
"Don't try to take them out yourself if you see them," said entomologist Chris Looney of the state Department of Agriculture. "If you get into them, run away, then call us! It is really important for us to know of every sighting, if we're going to have any hope of eradication."
State officials are asking people in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Jefferson and Clallam counties to be especially alert.
Experts say the best time to trap Asian giant hornets is from July through October, which is when colonies are established and workers are out foraging. They believe that traps can be hung as early as April if attempting to trap queens, but since there are significantly fewer queens than workers, catching a queen isn't very likely.
At this time, there are no reported sightings of Asian giant hornets in Louisiana.