by Dick Rogers, principal scientist and entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Program
(NAPSI)—Scientific information can ease the fears of many people concerned about the arrival of the Asian giant hornet in the United States.
What do we know?
Hornets are found in many parts of the world and play a vital role in the balance of natural ecosystems through pollination, biodiversity and natural pest control. Unfortunately dubbed the “murder hornet,” the Asian giant hornet (AGH), the world’s largest, was sighted for the first time in the United States in December 2019.
Who (or what) is at risk?
While the AGH is large in size and has a big sting compared to other hornets, it is typically not aggressive with humans (Whew! That’s a relief). As always, those allergic to bee or wasp stings should practice caution and avoid contact with hornets in general.
However, the AGH can pose a risk to honey bee colonies because it feeds on large insects, including wasps and bees. So far, they’ve only appeared in the northwest part of the United States, and monitoring efforts by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) are underway to better understand these hornets and help educate beekeepers on how to protect their colonies.
On top of this, our team at Bayer is taking action by organizing a first detection trapping program in North Carolina and Missouri, which will be deployed in early July. We will then share our results with the WSDA at the end of the season. While we do not expect to catch any AGH this year, early detection is key to an effective eradication effort if needed.
You can be confident that the early introduction of the AGH in the United States and Canada is being closely monitored by professionals who have management plans in place should there be any future sightings. There’s no need to worry about catching a glimpse of these hornets in your yards or gardens, as they are not yet established in the United States. In fact, the only hornet that is established in our country, the European hornet, has been around since the late 1800s.
How can we help protect the bees?
It’s not only researchers and entomologists who can help protect honeybees. Everyone can support bees by getting outside to plant pollinator-friendly gardens or flowers.
As pollinators play a vital role in our ecosystem, crop production and biodiversity, I recommend you stay calm and keep gardening to provide your fuzzy friends with the flowers and habitat they need to thrive.
Learn more about how to plant pollinator-friendly gardens that help bees, monarchs and other important pollinators by visiting https://beehealth.bayer.us/home.
Dick Rogers has been a professional entomologist for more than four decades and has been keeping and studying bees for over 40 years. He joined the Bayer Bee Care Program in 2009.