Indiana entomologists monitor for Asian giant hornet but not concerned

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Asian giant hornet (Photo By Shutterstock)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Entomologists at Purdue University are telling Hoosiers “not to worry” about the recently discovered Asian giant hornet.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture has so far verified four sightings. The hornets were also spotted in British Columbia last fall.

“We really don’t think it’s anywhere in Indiana,” Elizabeth Barnes, Purdue University, told CBS4.

Barnes is an exotic forest pest outreach coordinator. She said she is not concerned about the invasive species, at least for now.

“As long as they act aggressively, there is a good chance we can eradicate it before it spreads any further,” she explained. “That means surveying for the hornets and destroying any nests they find and monitoring it for several years.”

Researchers confirm they are monitoring the situation. They are now asking people if they think they have found one of the “murder hornets,” to take a photo and submit it for review.

“Please don’t kill it, even if you think it’s an Asian giant hornet. We have a lot of very large, native wasps here that are incredibly important to our ecosystem and we don’t want to have a massacre of those wasps this summer,” Barnes warned.

Barnes and entomologists nationwide are hesitant to use the term “murder hornets,” like you’ve likely seen on social media. The hornet coined that nickname because of how it preys on honeybees.

“Basically, they decapitate honeybees. They’ll go in, they’ll find a hive, they’ll decapitate the honeybees, and then they take all the larval bees, chew them up, bring them back to their own babies and feed it to them,” Barnes explained. “So they’re predators, but they’re not…they’re not murdering any more than a fox or coyote murders the mice they catch.”

The Asian Giant Hornet has been known to sting people, too, but only when agitated. In fact, sources recently reported a 54-year-old man in Spain died after he was stung by one of the hornets on his eyebrow. Beekeepers across the world have warned their sting is painful, especially considering how long the hornet’s stinger is, and they contain powerful neurotoxins.

“If a yellow jacket swarms you and stings you, that’s unpleasant. If you’re allergic, you can go into anaphylactic shock. With these hornets, because they’re so much bigger, they pack even more of a punch,” Barnes agreed.

Insect experts nationwide are telling Americans to avoid any potential nests out of precaution. At the same time, they say there are other invasive insects to be worried about.  

“The big ones we’re worried about here in Indiana right now are the spotted lantern fly, the Asian long-horned beetle, and the gypsy moth,” Barnes said.

Each of those have been spotted in our region and are killing trees and other plants.

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