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“Murder hornets”: Facts and fiction

“Murder hornets” recently took over the news cycle.

But what you know about them may not be true. An Extension entomologist speaks to the pest, which preys on an insect essential to agriculture.

University of Illinois Extension entomologist Nick Seiter would like to set the record straight about the supposed “murder hornet.”

“What’s the deal with the murder hornet? First off, it’s not called the ‘murder hornet.” I hadn’t heard of the name ‘murder hornet’ until over the weekend, when the national news stories started breaking,” Seiter said.

What is now being referred to as the ‘murder hornet’ is actually  the Asian Giant Hornet. The rather large, scary-looking pest stings its prey, most commonly the honeybee.

“The other issue, and probably the most important issue in terms of its impact on agriculture, is they are a threat to honeybees,” Seiter said.

Authorities last year spotted the Asian Giant Hornet in the Pacific Northwest. Doug Yanega, senior scientist at the Entomology Research Museum at the University of California at Riverside, tells Business Insider, there “is not an existential threat to mankind, the U.S., or our honeybee industry.”

“Even if they do get established and build a foothold here, the scale of the threat is greatly overblown,” Yanega said.