Asian Giant Hornet

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The Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, also known as the Japanese hornet and known colloquially as the yak-killer hornet, is the world's largest hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia. Its body length is approximately 50 mm (2 in), with a wingspan of about 76 mm (3 in). Queens may reach a length of 55 mm (2.2 in). In Japan, the Japanese hornet is referred to as the sparrow bee, alluding to its size or its coloration. The head of the hornet is orange and quite wide in comparison to other hornet species. The compound eyes and ocelli are dark brown, and the antennae are dark brown with orange scapes. The clypeus (the shield-like plate on the front of the head) is orange and coarsely punctured; the posterior side of the clypeus has narrow, rounded lobes. The mandible is large and orange with a black tooth (inner biting surface). The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is about 6 mm ( in) in length, and injects an especially potent venom that contains, like many bee and wasp venoms, a cytolytic peptide that can damage tissue by stimulating phospholipase action. Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University near Tokyo, described the sensation as feeling "like a hot nail being driven into [his] leg." The Asian giant hornet is a relentless hunter that preys on other large insects such as bees, other hornet species, and mantises. The hornets often attack honey bee hives with the goal of obtaining the honey bee larvae. A single scout, sometimes two or three, will cautiously approach the nest, giving off pheromones which will lead the other hornets to the hive's location. The hornets can devastate a colony of honey bees: a single hornet can kill as many as 40 honey bees per minute thanks to their large mandibles which can quickly strike and decapitate a bee. It takes only a few of these hornets a few hours to exterminate the population of a 30,000-member hive, leaving a trail of severed insect heads and limbs. The European honey bees Apis mellifera have small stings which do little damage to hornets that are three times their size and twenty times their weight. The honey bees make futile solo attacks without mounting a collective defense, and are easily killed individually by the hornets. Once a hive is emptied of all defending bees, the hornets feed on the honey and carry the larvae back to feed to their own larvae. The hornets can fly up to 60 miles (97 km) in a single day, at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. The giant Asian hornet has no natural predators. No insect in the hornet's area has the capacity to be a threat to the hornet. The only danger that the hornet faces comes from humans. Some villages in Japan value these creatures as part of a human diet. They are eaten either as hornet sashimi or deep fried. Despite the risks associated with the capture of hornets, they are said to be delicious and a good source of protein. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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