Insect sting expert and YouTube personality Coyote Peterson took time to address some questions on the "murder hornet," which has caused quite the buzz after being found in Oregon.
Native to Asia, the hornets are responsible for dozens of deaths in Japan each year, and pack quite the powerful punch, as Peterson himself is aware. In 2018, Peterson uploaded a video on YouTube of him getting stung by the hornet, which has amassed over 22 million views.
Peterson explains that the term "murder hornet" is a term made to provoke fear and does not adequately describe the creatures.
"What they're scientifically known as is Asian Giant Hornets," explained Peterson. "The one that showed up in the Pacific North West is an Asian hornet of some sort, but that does not mean that there is an 'outbreak' of these insects that is about to take over the US."
Peterson explained that the hornet, typically referred to as the "great sparrow bird" in Japan due to its size, can grow up to two inches long with a three inch wingspan. The insect's buzz is so loud, Peterson says, that one is likely to hear the hornet and be able to run before ever getting stung by it.
In regards to how they made landfall in the US, Peterson explains that the big bug "likely got here on a cargo ship," noting that it's physically impossible for a hornet to fly across the ocean.
Entomologists are working on determining how many are currently in the US, hoping to eradicate any colonies to squash the mega-pests.
Peterson, who has taken a number of insect stings in his search to find the most painful sting in the world, said that the Asian hornet's sting is "the second most painful insect sting in the world."
"The pain is excruciating. It feels like someone has shot a red hot poker in to your arm and does not remove it for close to six hours," said Peterson. "I was in intense pain for almost 36 hours. It's not something you want to get stung by."
Peterson said the most painful sting in the world was from the executioner wasp, which can already be found from Arizona to northern Argentina.
"It's a very potent sting, and just a single sting alone is more than any human would want to handle. Several stings could potentially kill humans, but that typically occurs from a secondary allergic reaction."
Peterson also clarified that the hornets will not sting unless provoked. "Provoked meaning if you try to catch, try to kill, or try to spray one of these creatures with an insecticide."
He went on to say that regular folks do not need to be afraid of the hornets, but that beekeepers needed to be seriously concerned, as a single hornet is capable of decapitating and killing an entire hive of European honey bees, which are the primary type of bee in the United States and Canada.
The hornet was reportedly seen on Vancouver Island recently, which sparked widespread worry, as the invasive species tends to stick around once in a new area.