TOP Blogger Kurt Bell poses with an Asian Hornet
BOTTOM A defensive ball of Japanese honey bees (Apis cerana japonica) in which two hornets are engulfed, incapacitated, heated, and eventually killed. (Wikipedia)
Asian Giant Hornets (vespa mandarinia)
Thrive as Climate Warms
A plague of hornets, each the size of a human thumb, have descended on Shaanxi province in China this summer—at least 28 people have been stung to death, while another 419 have been injured,
The population of Asian giant hornets has surged largely because of climate change, says the Shaanxi Provincial Forestry Department.
Being stung feels “like a hot nail through my leg,” as one entomologist put it, and their venom can dissolve skin. They’re fast, too, flying up to 25 miles per hour (41 kilometers an hour). They’re also the largest hornets on the planet, reaching 5.5 centimeters (2.2 inches).
(via The Atlantic)
But the actual target of the intensely predatory giant hornets isn’t humans, it’s mantises, hornets and bees.
In Japan, local honey bees have evolved a viable defensive strategy.
The bees trap the hornets as soon as they enter a hive, forming a ball around them. They then violently vibrate their flight muscles in much the same way as they would do to heat the hive in cold conditions.
This raises the temperature in the ball to the critical temperature of 46 °C (115 °F). In addition, the exertions of the honey bees raise the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ball.
The hornets (along with a few of the bees) eventually die.