Buzz off, Giant Murder Hornet! Hey, Asian Murder Hornet, be gone!
Insect scientists decided to off-kill the popular names for the world’s biggest, scariest, social-media-star bug. This week the creature was renamed Northern Giant Hornet, by entomological societies in Canada and the U.S.
Entomologists decided to take the social sting out of Vespa mandarinia to avoid “evoking fear or discrimination,” explained a press release Monday from the Entomological Society of America.
The old name was considered fear-provoking and potentially discriminatory against people from Asia. “Amid a rise in hate crimes and discrimination against people of Asian descent, usage of ‘Asian’ in the name of a pest insect can unintentionally bolster anti-Asian sentiment,” the organization said.
First reported on the West Coast in 2019, the hornet originates in Asia and was “likely brought to North America accidentally on container ships,” said the Invasive Species Council of B.C.
Since then, it’s had a lot of dramatic attention in North American news and social media. “Watch an Asian murder hornet kill a mouse in seconds,” breathlessly reported the New York Post with a gruesome YouTube video of a mouse being stung to death by an attacker half its size.
In fact, the hornet is extremely rare in North America. The first nest in B.C. was discovered in Nanaimo in 2019, and immediately killed by local beekeepers. Since then, a few nests have been removed in Washington State, and a few dead hornets have been reported in B.C.s Lower Mainland.
But make no mistake: this creature is indeed a murderer, especially of bees, both native and commercial honeybees.
“If they establish in BC, they may pose a serious threat to our beekeeping and commercial pollination industries, which in turn will have serious consequences for BC agriculture,” warned the council.
“Murder Hornet” certainly got people’s attention, and made us aware.
Scientists don’t want us to be alarmed or blame Asians for the arrival of this pest. But they do want us to report sightings by contacting your local government or regional invasive species organization.