Jasper the Japanese hornet gives you fair warning
Thankfully, this dangerous insect hasn't turned into an invasive species.
Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 03:31 PM
Continuing my fascination with amazingly talented animals, I have invited a guest blogger from Japan. He is about two inches long with a three-inch wingspan and a quarter-inch stinger. Jasper is a giant Japanese hornet, and though he was kind enough to write this blog, I do not recommend an in-person (in-insect?) encounter with him. I will let him explain why:
"Konnichiwa, all! My name is Jasper, and I have been invited to share a few things about my species, the Japanese or Asian giant hornet. First of all, my species is found in temperate and tropical Eastern Asia including the countries of Japan, China and Taiwan. We are colonial insects who hail to a queen that produces all the larvae, just as in most bee or hornet species. However, we are not your average hornet species. Not by a long shot. You Americans can think of us as the Chuck Norris of hornets.
"Since we are large insects, we feed on large things. Our typical diet consists of other hornet species, praying mantises and honeybees. We have a notorious ability to take down a hive of European honey bees. Twelve of us can do so in just 30 hours. Our main objective is to get at the honey these bees make as well as their larvae, both of which we use to nourish ourselves and our own larvae. The adult bees are simply ripped apart by our large mandibles, helplessly.
"Though humans are never our main target, it is estimated that approximately 40 humans die every year from our attacks. Our stingers contain a venom that can dissolve skin and is lethal to humans if not treated quickly. We can also travel at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour for 60 miles. We are also known for ejecting acidic saliva from our mouths into eyes. Sorry, but nature's gotta defend itself!
"I do hope that you are able to visit Asia at some point in your lifetime. However, you have been warned about our species. Thanks for your time!"
Luckily, these hornets do not exist anywhere in the United States at all. Summertime is here, however, and it is prime time for the insect order Hymenoptera, including bees, wasps, hornets and ants to be out. Be sure to stay away from nests and watch the ground for ant hills.
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Audrey Rabalais originally wrote this story for MNN State Reports.