When we see animals in a zoo, we are fascinated by their characteristics—strange skin, sharp teeth, and funny faces. Even the most terrifying animals don’t concern us as long as they are on the opposite side of the barrier. But when these animals encountered are in nature, this becomes a different story. Most children grow up fearing the sounds of three animals: the growl of a bear, the hiss of a snake, and the buzz of a bee. Even as adults, the distinct buzzing still sends most of us in the other direction—that sting hurts!
In the early 1990s, every child’s fears came true: Killer Bees! Then, in 2020, things got even worse: Murder Hornets! Now stricken with renewed fear of our lifelong nemesis, we nervously await the next generation of terrorizing insects: Genocide Wasps.
How can we not fall victim of Genocide Wasps
What is it that makes these bees so scary? And more importantly, how can we not fall victim to them? Let us start by looking at each species.
Killer bees are actually Africanized honeybees, and are a cross of various honeybee breed. They are slightly smaller than their “non-killer” counterparts, and carry less venom. How, then, can they have killed over 1000 humans, as well as livestock and other animals? What makes them earn their nickname?
The Africanized honeybee tends to migrate and swarm further than its cousins, often as an entire colony. They set up a wider defensive perimeter around the hive, and employ more aggressive defenses against intruders (to include pursuing an intruder who is attempting to escape). If provoked, not only will they swarm you and chase you, they also hold a grudge! Their stings leave an odor that identify you as an intruder, and they may reattack you later. It is possible to receive over 100 stings if you look like a threat!
Best way to avoid falling prey to killer bees
The best way to avoid falling prey to killer bees is to avoid the colony. You are probably only in danger in the southern half of the United States, as well as our neighbors to the south. Maintain at least 100 feet away from the hive, and avoid loud noises or shiny objects that may stimulate the defenders. If you are being pursued, run away from the hive in a straight line—you can probably outrun them, but be prepared to run up to a quarter mile! Be a good buddy, and don’t run near other people, thus giving your pursuers a group of unsuspecting targets. If stung, seek medical attention—the higher quantity of stings may trigger an allergic response that other bees would not.
Murder hornets are a different story. Officially known as Asian giant hornets, they are the world’s largest hornet, and seem to be gaining a foothold in the Pacific northwest. With a ¼-inch stinger and crab-like mandibles, these critters deliver a sting that is an order of magnitude more painful than other bees, as it might only require 50 stings to kill a non-allergic human!
The good news is that the Asian giant hornet prefers to eat bees and other insects, not humans. Unless you are perceived as a threat to the nest, the chances are low that these hornets will seek you out as a target. Their nests are generally underground or inside hollowed logs, though they do temporarily occupy a honeybee hive after a hunt. If you believe you are being chased by a murder hornet, follow the same steps as above (run away from the next, don’t lead it toward other people, and seek medical attention).
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We don’t look forward to the future Genocide Wasps, so we hope that this is a ways off. In the meantime, it would appear that Killer Bees and Murder Hornets should be natural enemies (prey and predator, respectively). Given their American invasion from the south and the west, those in California and Nevada seem most likely to witness this epic battle for the first time. If you ever suspect you’re about to watch Killer Bees team up to defend against attacking Murder Hornets, please do the world a favor and take some video! (But no flash photography.)