Updated: Dec 17, 2020
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) is native to East and South Asia, so alarm bells rang when scientists spotted the hornets last fall in British Columbia. In December, the hornet was spotted in Washington state, the first time on U.S. soil, which eventually led to viral media coverage about its inevitable spread through the country. So how concerned should Colorado be? Not very, says Colorado State University entomologist Whitney Cranshaw in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
“[The hornet] is a woodland species adapted to moist, low elevation sites, like the area where it presently occurs, not like anywhere in Colorado,” Cranshaw said. “This is not an insect that hitchhikes well so for it to spread, it’s on its own. And between eastern Washington and western Colorado there are thousands of geographic barriers that it would likely not be able to cross. I cannot see any scenario on how it could get to Colorado on its own. Not to mention it likely would not be well adapted to the area, and likely would not establish, if someone were to carry it here.”
The fear stoked by the unprecedented presence of V. mandarinia isn’t totally unfounded. The nickname for the species derives for its size, venom and aggressiveness. The average hornet reaches a body length of about 2 inches, a wingspan of 3 inches and wields a stinger a quarter-inch long with the potential to inject large amounts of powerful venom. Stings have been equated to the feeling of hot metal piercing the skin. READ MORE>>>