ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — After reports that a roughly two-inch long insect known as the “murder hornet” has made its way to the U.S. for the first time ever into Washington State, the Maryland Department of Agriculture says it received many calls on Monday about the hornet.
“We continue to monitor, though it is highly unlikely that the hornet is present in Maryland,” the department tweeted Monday.
We have received many calls today about the Asian giant hornet, referred to in media coverage as the "Murder Hornet." This insect was found in Washington state in late 2019. We continue to monitor, though it is highly unlikely that the hornet is present in Maryland.
— Maryland Agriculture (@MdAgDept) May 4, 2020
The Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, has been known to kill up to 50 people a year in Japan, according to the New York Times.
“One of the reasons it’s so frightening is the sheer amount of venom it can inject and the amount of times it can sting,” entomologist Samuel Ramsey with the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
The hornets are usually between 1.5 to 2 inches long, have large yellow-orange heads with prominent eyes, and a black and yellow striped abdomen.
According to the USDA, they are the largest hornets in the world. Besides feeding on flowers, they are known to band together to target yellow jackets and other bee species in mass attacks, decapitating and eating parts of the smaller bees.
WSDA says on its website that the hornets do not typically go after humans, but if they do, not even beekeeping suits can protect against the hornets’ stingers, which are longer and more dangerous than a bee’s.
Ramsey said the sting delivers seven times the amount of venom of a normal bee and multiple stings can prove deadly.
“These wasps are very large, they are like armored tanks, their exoskeletons are very thick,” Ramsey said, adding just a few of the hornets can clean out a colony of around 60,000 bees.
Scientists do not yet know how the hornets made it to the U.S.
Maryland’s Department of Agriculture told residents if anyone has found a suspicious insect on their property, to send pictures to email@example.com.