Attacks by giant killer hornets in China, the biggest hornets you will ever see, have killed at least 42 people in China in the last three months, and injured a further 1675. There are still many sting victims in hospital in critical condition. The stings leave what look like gunshot wounds as the hornet’s venom is neurotoxic to humans and can dissolve human tissue.
The Asian killer hornet is suspected as the culprit in the cases. They are carnivorous killers of other insects, according to the Honeybee Conservancy. They feed their young with the larvae of other insects.
Although several people are killed every year in wooded areas, this year has been unusually severe, possibly due to a change in the climate. These giant hornets are the largest stinging insects—as much as 2.5 inches in length for the queen—and are a shocking orange color. The hornets are on a rampage, of sorts, and have been dubbed the “giant killer hornets” by the press.
a local man named Chen Changlin is reported to have said:
“I ran and shouted for help, but the hornets chased me about 200 meters, and stung me for more than three minutes.”
“The more you run, the more they want to chase you,” another said. This victim’s kidneys were severely damaged by the hornet’s venom.
Justin Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwestern Biological Institute and the University of Arizona, suspects the stings are among the most painful. Schmidt devised a way to measure the pain associated with stings. And he did it the hard way—by letting himself be stung.
Schmidt has endured the stings of more than 150 different species since first publishing the Schmidt Sting Pain Index in 1984. While he’s never been stung by this particular hornet, he says his experience leads him to believe they’d be a solid three or four on a scale of four.
He admits he’s not looking to be stung by the giant hornets to get another data point. He hopes to avoid the insects, which have the scientific name Vespa mandarinia.
China has cut down on the risk of attacks in recent weeks through an extermination campaign. Happily, Mr Schmidt says, there’s little risk of the killer hornets making it to the Americas, let alone surviving here.
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