DALLAS – Texas A and M University’s Agrilife Research heads a Texas task force to monitor developments with the arrival in the Unites States of the Giant Asian Hornet, or “Murder Bee” as they are more commonly known.
Dr. David Ragsdale says the hornets are of particular concern to both the agricultural industry nationwide and to Texas, as half the nation’s honeybees, responsible for pollinating our crops, over winter in Texas. Giant Asian Hornets are capable of wiping out an entire colony of honeybees within an hour, ripping off their heads to make a mixture to feed to their young. American honeybees are originally from Europe, and have no known defense against these plundering insects. Originally from Korea and Japan, the Giant Asian Hornets do have a natural enemy in Asia, but not in North America, and as they are of a different species than the European/US honeybees, it’s not yet known if interbreeding or any other resolution to produce a new survival-challenging insect against these giant creatures may be found.
In North America, the hornets were first spotted in the Vancouver Canada region; thought to have arrived on a shipment or through other means at or near a port. They have moved an average of 60 miles per year, and reached Whatcom County, Washington State, although scientists are concerned human movement, especially with vehicles and airplanes, could usher the insects to Texas more quickly than the naturally occurring advance, or expansion of territory.
Texans are asked to keep an eye out for the hornets, and to call their county’s agriculture extension office if they aren’t sure a particular insect could be one of these hornets. Dr. Ragsdale says an agent will generally contact you within 24 hours. If it’s possible to keep the specimen or take a photograph to show the experts, the scientists say it will help them make a determination of species. They ask anyone who might have a question about what they’ve seen to also note the location. Agriculture experts are combing areas where “murder bees” have been found, trying to find a nest to wipe it out before more are established.
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