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Should Floridians Worry About ‘Murder Hornets’?

As if this year hasn’t thrown enough dangers or concerns our way, this month offers the Asian giant hornets, nicknamed “murder hornets”. Fortunately for Florida, despite their notorious moniker and reputation for hunting honey bees, they have yet to be found in our state. 

These hornets are a type of wasp that are typically 1.5 to 2 inches in length. The stingers, about 10 millimeters in length, are able to pierce through even a beekeeper’s suit. The Asian giant hornets are native to Japan and were found in the United States last fall in Washington state. The giant hornets eat honey bees for protein, according to the University of Florida. “There is slim chance the murder hornets will find their way to Florida as they have only been found in Washington state last year in the United States,” said Amy Vu, extension coordinator at UF’s Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory in Gainesville.

While the hornets can pose a threat to honey bees at the individual or hive level, the two species currently co-exist in Asia and it’s unlikely that they pose any threat to the overall honeybee population.

“Florida beekeepers don’t need to be worried at all,” Vu said.

In order to avoid any damage to the Florida honey bees, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is proactively keeping an eye out for the Asian giant hornets during inspections.

Early detection is key to preventing invasive, nonnative pests. If you suspect that you’ve seen the Asian giant hornet in Florida, you’re asked to contact the Florida Department of Agriculture with a location, photos, or a description of what you’ve seen.

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