Just when we thought things could not get any worse, reports are coming in that the infamous “murder hornet” that originated in Asia has now been spotted in the United States.

The hyper-aggressive bees that can measure up to two inches long can wipe out entire bee colonies within hours and have stingers that are long and strong enough to puncture beekeeping suits.

“With queens that can grow to two inches long, Asian giant hornets can use mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins to wipe out a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the bees and flying away with the thoraxes to feed their young,” the New York Times reported. “For larger targets, the hornet’s potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened to hot metal driving into their skin.”

The hornets kill up to fifty people a year in Japan, and they have now been found to be in Washington state, where they are already wreaking havoc on beekeepers’ hives. Scientists are now desperately trying to hunt the hornets down so that they can stop them before it’s too late.

“This is our window to keep it from establishing,” said Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done.”

Jun-ichi Takahashi, a researcher at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, explained that the species earned the “murder hornet” nickname its aggressive group attacks can expose victims to doses of toxic venom equivalent to that of a venomous snake, which is why a series of stings can be fatal.

“It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh,” one man who was stung seven times by murder hornets said of the experience.

Beekeepers, however, are far more concerned about what the murder hornets will do to their hives, rather than on what they will do to humans.

“Most people are scared to get stung by them,” longtime beekeeper Ruthie Danielsen said. “We’re scared that they are going to totally destroy our hives.”
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