Name & impact of giant hornet misleading, says MU entomologist

Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia). 

Name and impact of giant hornet misleading, says MU entomologist

Missourians need not worry about insects dubbed “murder hornets” in social media, said University of Missouri Extension entomologist Kevin Rice.

He hopes to put a halt to hysteria about the Asian giant hornet.

“The name circulating on social media is misleading,” Rice said. “Scientists do not use the term murderous to describe this interesting insect. These headlines sound like something from a Stephen King story and instill unnecessary fear.”

The Asian giant hornet is not typically aggressive and only attacks people when its nest is threatened, according to MU Extension horticulturist Tamra Reall.

Comparison chart of bees, wasps and hornets. 

In Japan, fewer than 50 people per year die from the hornet’s potent venom. To put this in perspective, more than 200 people die in the U.S. each year from vehicle accidents involving deer, Reall said.

The hornet is not present in the Midwest now. 

“It is also extremely unlikely it will ever move here,” says Rice, with emphasis on “extremely.” 

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