- Author: Karey Windbiel-Rojas
First thing first: "murder" hornets, or more correctly, the Asian giant hornet, have NOT been found in California.
The term murder hornet is also not quite accurate. It attacks honey bees, which isn't desirable of course, but the important thing to note that this insect's purpose is not to murder humans. Right now in California, we are keeping an eye out for this insect so there is no need to worry, yet.
The news and social media have been filled with stories about the Asian giant hornet (AGH) but here are some facts from credible sources:
- Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) is the world's largest species of hornet, measuring between 1.5-2 inches.
- The stinger of AGH is longer than that of a honey bee and AGH venom is more toxic.
- Unlike honey bees, the AGH can sting repeatedly without dying.
- They attack and destroy honey bee hives and kill bees by decapitating them. A few hornets can destroy a hive in just a few hours. They take the honey bee brood to feed their own young.
- AGH attack other insects but are not known to destroy entire populations of those insects.
- They do not generally attack people or pets, but can attack when threatened.
- Asian giant hornets can be confused with other insects so proper identification is important.
For more information about the Asian giant hornet, see this resources:
- Washington State Department of Agriculture: https://agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/hornets
- UC Davis Entomology and Nematology blog: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=41390
- Side-by-side comparison of AGH with other wasps, bees, and similar insects from North Carolina State University: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/murder-hornet-comparison/
If the AGH becomes established, this hornet will have negative impacts on the environment, economy, and public health. We will keep you informed about any credible findings of this insect in California.