Scientists Predict Potential Spread of Invasive Asian Giant “Murder” Hornet Through United States and Globally

Asian Giant Hornet

The world’s largest hornet, the Asian giant hornet has been encountered in the Pacific Northwest. New research at Washington State University predicts where the hornet could find suitable habitat, both in the U.S. and globally, and how quickly it could spread, should it establish a foothold. Credit: WSDA

Researchers at Washington State University have predicted how and where the Asian giant hornet, an invasive newcomer to the Pacific Northwest, popularly dubbed the “murder hornet,” could spread and find ideal habitat, both in the United States and globally.

Sharing their discoveries in a newly published article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team found that if the world’s largest hornet gains a foothold in Washington state, it could spread down much of the west coast of the United States.

The Asian giant hornet could also find suitable habitat throughout the eastern seaboard and populous parts of Africa, Australia, Europe, and South America, if humans inadvertently transport it.

The team’s predictions underline the importance of Washington state’s efforts to stop the large insects before they spread.

“We found many suitable climates in the U.S. and around the globe,” said lead author Gengping Zhu, a postdoctoral scholar at WSU’s Department of Entomology.

Collaborating with Washington State Department of Agriculture scientist Chris Looney and WSU entomologists David Crowder and Javier Illan, Zhu examined more than 200 records from the hornet’s native range in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, then used a set of ecological models incorporating climate data to predict likely global habitat across six continents.

“These predictions are scientific sleuthing,” Illan said. “We’re making an educated guess on how fast and far these insects can move, their rate of success in establishing a nest, and offering different scenarios, from least bad to worst. No one has done this before for this species.”

A wide range of suitable habitats

Native to forested parts of Asia, the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, is a significant threat to Western honey bees, which have no natural defense. In late summer and fall, hornet colonies attack beehives, destroying entire bee colonies to feed their brood and produce new queens.

Up to two inches long, the insect also deploys a potent sting, which is more dangerous than that of local bees and wasps.

Asian giant hornets are most likely to thrive in places with warm summers, mild winters, and high rainfall. Extreme heat is lethal, so their most suitable habitats are in regions with a maximum temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Based on those factors, suitable habitat for the giant hornet exists along much of the U.S. west and east coasts, adjacent parts of Canada, much of Europe, northwestern and southeastern South America, central Africa, eastern Australia, and most parts of New Zealand.

Much of the interior of the U.S. is inhospitable to the hornet due to extremes of heat, cold, and low rainfall. This includes the eastern parts of Washington state and British Columbia, as well as California’s Central Valley, all of which have major fruit and nut crops that rely on honey bee pollination.

Danger of accidental spread

Using data from a similar species, Vespa velutina, scientists predicted that without containment, Asian giant hornets could spread into southern Washington and Oregon, and north through British Columbia. Calculating that hornets could fly up to 68 miles (109 kilometers) per year, their worst-case scenario found that the insects could disperse throughout the western regions of Washington and Oregon in 20 years or less.

However, scientists cautioned that these predictions are an educated guess.

“The information that we want—how fast and far queens can fly, and when they fly—is all unknown,” Illan said. “A lot of basic biology is unknown. So, we’re using a surrogate.”

“We know queens come out of their nest in the fall, mate, and fly—somewhere,” Looney said. But nobody knows how far they fly, or if they fly repeatedly. We don’t know if they set up nests in the spring near where they hibernated, or if they start flying again. These are some of the things that make predicting natural dispersal a challenge.”

Nature alone cannot predict where the hornet may end up. Human activity plays a role in transporting invasive species around the globe.

While colonies can only be started by mated queens, and a USDA analysis found that accidental transport by humans is unlikely, Looney said that human-assisted spread could be a concern.

“It’s easy for some species to get moved accidentally from one side of the country to the other, even if there’s a large swathe of unacceptable habitat in between,” he said.

“Preventing the establishment and spread of Asian giant hornet in western North America is critical for protecting bees and beekeepers,” Crowder said. “Our study can inform strategies to monitor and eradicate these invaders before they become established.”

Reference: “Assessing the ecological niche and invasion potential of the Asian giant hornet” by Gengping Zhu, Javier Gutierrez Illan, Chris Looney and David W. Crowder, 22 September 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2011441117

86 Comments on "Scientists Predict Potential Spread of Invasive Asian Giant “Murder” Hornet Through United States and Globally"

  1. Bull dung.

  2. These things have been around in USA since the 80’s. Probably before.

    This is news now?

  3. This is why I live in a state where the air hurts my face 6 months a year.

    • The hornets have been in hoquiam wash since March. I am sure because I seen them. I let the city know and they don’t care.

  4. Is it too easy to ask: why not get some of them Queens from the places of them bees that know how to kill 5ye murder hornet? Go get them mfrs to help out. Teach these ones over here how to create that vibration that kills them. Idk… Is that another “introducing” other “foreign” insects type of thing?

  5. LOL. Get a life people.

  6. Hopefully most of them will end up on car windshields!

  7. Sounds like I’ll be retiring in Vegas!

  8. I can bet they make an awesome crunching sound when stepped on.

  9. Maybe Scientists could Develop a Murder Hornet that Would Target Only Liberals and Demorcrats!,That Would be a Great Accomplishment for The United States!

  10. Hoe did “swathe” get approved by a simple spell checker? Spelling and grammar are still a thing.

    • Scienceissmarterthanyougetoverit | September 27, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Reply

      Yes, they are, which is why the first word of your comment is even more hilarious 🤣 maybe make sure you aren’t doing the exact same thing you’re chastising others for before you open your mouth 😂

  11. Aren’t honey bees themselves an import? Not to mention,the colonies used for honey production are often *moved around* during the season as flowers bloom. It should be no surprise that bees are freaking out and suffer colony collapse when we do this!

  12. This, again?!
    I thought they were supposed to have arrived, already. More scare tactics and fear mongering from “the scientists” (eyes looking up)

    • Scienceissmarterthanyougetoverit | September 27, 2020 at 9:00 am | Reply

      They are and have been here, this is about the spread. But I’m sure you wouldn’t know that since I bet you came right to the comments to flex what an expert you are without reading the article from actual scientists with a brain though right 😂

  13. Asia,the place that keeps on giving!

  14. stephen schaffer | September 25, 2020 at 8:20 am | Reply

    Thanks again China business/shipping companies and lame-brained government policies. We got the Ash moth a few years ago in a wooden crate from China (the EU requires all wood products be fumigated – but the US doesn’t) and all our Ash trees are on the way out.

  15. stephen schaffer | September 25, 2020 at 8:22 am | Reply

    Thanks again China business/shipping companies and lame-brained government policies. We got the Ash borer moth a few years ago in a wooden crate from China (the EU requires all wood products be fumigated – but the US doesn’t) and all our Ash trees are on the way out.

  16. Fake news.
    Another issue to try and force a presidential change.

    • Yup, murder hornets are political now 🙄 every single move anyone anywhere makes is all to get your beloved idol from the White House. take off the tin foil for the love of god 😂 he sucks, and people are tired of it. Get over it

  17. People are so ungrateful Don’t forget where their food comes from

  18. BwahahahahahahahHaha

  19. Cannot believe this story or any story that refers to these hornets as Murder Hornets. There is no such species of hornets such as this and therefore media stories such as this are grossly stated wrong. They, the hornets are in fact giant Asian hornets.

  20. Cicada killers are not Asian Giant Hornets. They aren’t Hornets at all. They’re sand wasps and they want nothing to do with humans. We have better things to worry about than a wasp that barely ever stings anyone

  21. This article is dumber than a bag of dumb stuff.
    No such thing as a murder hornet.

  22. Oh come on now you really think we care anymore covid then hornets then blm the covid then blm then covid then antifa them blm then covid now hornets again and no science at all

  23. Wow! Seriously! Get a life!

  24. I have a video of one of them and im in virginia.

  25. I live in Colorado. On Wednesday the 16th I was outside my place standing next it and all of a sudden this giant wasp landed on the building next to me. This thing was HUGE! I knew instantly it wasn’t a wasp as I have a lot of them in my backyard. My eyes zeroed in on how long the stinger was! I quickly took off my flip flop and smashed it against the wall or so I thought. I did kill it but the whole body stayed completely intact. I plucked it off the brick wall and measured it. The body is an 1.5 inches. The stinger is 3/4 inch! I sealed it in a ziploc baggie. I’m convinced it’s a murder hornet. I would love it if someone could verify what it is.

  26. These may be the insect described in Revelation 7..Definately fits the description to a T. If you dont have the seal of God on your heads when the order is given they will sting says this will go on for 5 months and that those folks will beg to die from the pain but wont be able to..the only way to avoid this scenario is for the world to repent and align with God and begin the transition to a different love based world free of fear..This is the most critical time in all of world history..please search your hearts and choose wisely theres no more chances..please dont blow this people.

  27. Flint Locke, swathe is a word and it’s used the correct context..

  28. Here are the coordinates to a hive in Oregon 2 years ago I want to share the waypoint “danger bees” with you. View & Save it to the onX Hunt app here:

  29. I’m in Virginia also and I see those giant bees every summer and, every summer the occasions that I see them multiply.

  30. Yeh Yeh…the experts couldn’t even model Covid 19 spread… Please stop with you’re scare mongering crap…. “Murder Hornet”… you sensationalist wankers!

    • Stopdrinkingthekoolaid | September 27, 2020 at 8:51 am | Reply

      Maybe it’s harder to do that when stupid people just keep spreading it instead of helping to stop it. If Americans could ever be smart, or think of someone other than themselves, then maybe that would have worked out better 🙃

  31. Yeah this is the second year we are infested with these things here in Virginia. Afyer the sun goes down, we can’t even go out if we leave our front porch light on, unless we want to be stung by one of the 10 or more flying near anywhere close to a light

  32. It’s the cicada killer that’s in the united states. They are huge as well

  33. Those are not the same insect your seeing in Virginia. There are many different giant hornet species. If you want a closer look at the sting from these animals, youtube brave wilderness

  34. Hey people in the comments that say you see them at night in Virginia…. Those are definitely European Hornets and not Asian Giant hornets! These guys are definitely only in Washington State and Canada for only 2yrs now. The Hornets that you have are much smaller and the only ones that come out at night to hunt and fly around porch lights. They have been here for over 100yrs. Please don’t comment on it if you’re not educated.

  35. Its disappointing to see science pages misinform people by calling them “murder hornets”.
    Like “killer sharks” which lead to the near extinction of sharks from fear hunting.

  36. I live in East Tennessee and I am 29 years old and the asian hornet has been here since before I was born! This is a bunch of bull crap!

  37. Why don’t we just breed these things to be aggressive toward the Corona 19 virus and let whoever wins take over the world. Between Trump, Putin, North Korea, Iran, unemployment and China. We’re doomed. Pick a winner and call it a day.

  38. What’s happening today is no joke! These are plaques that God is allowing to come due to sin. The bible is being fulfilled, God, Prophecy is right before our eyes. What we see are not scare tactics as someone posted. You ever heard of a scare tactic killing over 200,000 people? Sin is due to it all! People are evil and wicked, want no part of God, that’s ok, He’s showing everyone who He is and EVERY KNEE SHALK BOW AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS THAT HE IS LORD!!! In stead of making ignorant comments, you should be repenting and praying. 2nd Chronicles, IF MY PEOPLE WHICH ARE CALLED BY MY NAME SHALL HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND PRAY, AND SEEK MY FACE, AND TURN FROM THEIR WAYS, THEN WILL I HEAR FROM HEAVEN, AND WILL FORGIVE THEIR SINS, AND WILL HEAL THEIR LAND. READ THE BIBLE. IT CONTAIN EVERY ANSWER TO EVERY QUESTION!!!

  39. Peter MacNeil-
    LMFAO for sure! ciouldnt have said it better🤣🤔👍

  40. There is not a single entomologist alive that refers to the Asian giant hornet as a murder hornet. That is pure media bulldonk. And they have been around in the states for years. Sheesh.

  41. From my recent reading they have established themselves in France already. Due to a lack of help from the goverment and bizarre regulations bee keepers are forced to deal with the hornet themselves.

  42. They have established themselves in France already. Government regulations have hindered larger eradication efforts. Bee keepers and scholars are left to do it themselves. The main poison that is effective in wiping out the hornet’s nest is just as lethal to honey bees if not more so, since you need twice the amount of poison to kill the hornets.

  43. More fear mongering.

  44. Another reason for Americans to bear arms, stay strap & pop a cap & send them back to Hell/Asia. It will make good target practice for you ameteurs. If you can hit 1 of these, you can hit anything!

  45. I live in Vancouver, B. C.. How likely or even possible is it for my studio apt to have more than 1 “Killer Hornets’ nest”?
    1. I’m approximately 200 ft above and in clear view of both of the bldgs, “Preserving our Honey Bees’ nests”; which I am sad to see, have been either attacked by someone or “something” this year’s mid-late August!?
    2. I became overly suspicious of the behaviour I first noticed in the last 2 wks of August. Starting with: What I had initially thought were smaller bees being attacked and then picked apart by these much larger and much faster bees.. Were in fact wasps!!
    3. CURRENTLY, my studio apt (which I share alongside with my cat), including many of the other tenants around the building are dealing with as of still!
    4. For my cat and I, this is and/or has not only been traumatic physically but psychologically!!

  46. Fake news

  47. Come on people…. I can see all this fear getting to people back 25 years ago before the information age… yeah really,, turns out these phones we carry around with us everywhere will tell us things we need to know… like what an Asian giant hornet even looks like .. they are very similar ( but different) looking to a cicada killer that lives in the united States… Also I hear a lot of people complaining about seeing them at night, These are definitely cicada killers you’re seeing , as they hunt at night also. and are attracted to light.. This all makes good sense because the cicada bug makes their mating call at night time… Everyone just needs to take a breath and understand that no matter how scared you are of bees, These things do not want anything to do with humans.. If you don’t want trouble from one of these guys while they’re hunting. Leave them Bee! pun intended

  48. Well ash bugs got hold my finger got bit by it. And don’t wish any wild creapy crawler’s on know one And now killer bees.Got white big wasp house nexted door don’t know what do with them just lovely.For my neighbor hood. I’m hate stink bugs mad me quit breathing.Thank on leashing bugs bees moth’s other countries is on real .And what every else we going get over here nexted united states what goinv got get nexted bless us all right now good day or night my friend ….T.M.P

  49. The title of this article is misleading.
    Fake news.

  50. Why don’t we just get the Killer Asian Hornet to sting Fake Fauci, then we’ll be rid of the main problem! It would probably die of ingesting too much BS and pass on immediately!

  51. Why don’t we just get the Killer Asian Hornet to sting Fake Fauci, then we’ll be rid of the main problem! It would probably die of ingesting too much BS and pass on immediately! Or maybe he’d think he’d gotten vaccinated with his bogus shot. See how he likes it, serves him right!

    • Or maybe we can get it to sting you and knock all this conspiracy bs out of you. Stop drinking the kool aid, cause it sounds like you need to be admitted 😬

  52. I read all the comments here. Forget these Hornets….its the lack of common sense I read here that is much more deadly to all of us.

  53. Well said Ricardo. Common sense is a beautiful thing.

  54. Foreigners are slowly DESTROYING this country. Why are humans so evil? I can’t make sense of such sickos.

    • If you’re blaming “foreigners”, then it is YOU who are evil. Many other families were here before your white colonizing slave owners I’m sure 🙄 you should be ashamed to be this ignorant.

  55. Seriously, the fact that they think every fart is a plot to get him out is pathetic and sounds like they need to be locked up in an institution 🤣 they’re just as crazy as he is. Pretty sad, and disgusting.

  56. Scienceissmarterthanyougetoverit | September 27, 2020 at 8:55 am | Reply

    Oh right, I’m sure in your mind it’s daddy Trump who will save us all 🤡🤣🤣🤣 lay off that kool aid bro 😳😂

  57. Ann Marie Lachapelle | September 27, 2020 at 9:57 am | Reply

    I am in the Eastern Township in Quebec, Canada and found one of these hornets 🐝. So how do I report to the right people?

  58. Haven’t seen any in Texas area near San Antonio and Austin or Houston…..but if they truly are a issue to bees 🐝 then I’m sure there is a way to get rid of them.

  59. I live here in virginia, couple years back I found that hornet hive living in my concrete block foundation. Took me all day to get rid of them.

    • Christian Martin | August 23, 2022 at 5:38 pm | Reply

      Hi Tom — I also live in Virginia and just discovered a hive living in my block wall a couple inches above the ground. They seem to have made a hole through the mortar… How did you get rid of them ?

  60. We killed one 3 nights ago here in Pennsylvania.

  61. Rachel Berard Horton | September 27, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Reply

    I saw one in April 2020 in my Asian Jasmin bushes here in Mandeville,Louisiana……. So I sprayed the area with wasp spray.

  62. Rachel Berard Horton | September 27, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Reply

    And I can’t get rid of these baby orange and yellow wasp!!!😡 they’re everywhere, 😡😡😡

  63. TheresaMay Johnson | September 27, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Reply

    I would like to see a film of their activities with bees as well as their activities with each other and with humans.

  64. Why is this happening now as opposed to 20,50 years ago? Even when the Chinese were here building the railroad across the country. So were they brought here on purpose? They did not get here then. You would think that there was less of a system to keep them out than it is now. Can anyone answer this?

  65. New England farm lad | September 29, 2020 at 5:22 am | Reply

    It’s not in interior northern New England and likely to harsh for it so never likely will be able to establish.

  66. 🎅…so Billy, what do you want for Christmas?

    👱…a flamethrower 🔥🐝

  67. Now, All of a sudden, these hornets are a problem? Sounds like another Genetic Engineering Marvel. Indirectly, these hornets “hitch” a ride? That’s why your deck hands or whom ever is responsible for inspecting containers, etc. Should open their eyes when it’s time to inspect! The hornets may be a reality of a scientists imagination……

  68. My dad lives in Litchfield mn he has 2 of them murder Hornets in a box dead that he captured lingering in his huge flower garden this earlier this year.

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