by Akshay Duggal ’21
From the passing of iconic basketball player, Kobe Bryant, to the explosion of the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the new decade has been difficult for everyone. Despite all this, Mother Nature has decided to throw another curveball our way: insects. Specifically, Asian giant hornets, dubbed “murder hornets”, and cicadas.
The former made headlines and stirred up fear all over the United States and Canada in early May when six sightings of these 2-inch long insects, the largest hornet species in the world, were confirmed in the Pacific Northwest: four in Washington state and two in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
An entomologist from Washington State University believes that these hornets, who kill upwards of 50 people per year in Japan, pose a significant threat to the health of humans as well as the honeybee population, which is an essential part of the ecosystem that is already on the decline. This invasive species wipes out bee populations by attacking their hives, decapitating the adults, and eating the young, which kills an entire hive in mere hours.
While these terrifying creatures don’t typically attack humans, not even beekeeping suits can protect against their stingers. Though it is very unlikely that you will encounter a murder hornet, the best thing to do if you see one is to walk away calmly without swatting at them.
As if that wasn’t enough, entomologists predict that nearly 1.5 million cicadas per acre will wake up from a 17 year slumber in the Virginias and parts of North Carolina this year. Luckily, these insects are harmless to humans, but they produce a very loud noise that can be very annoying, especially at night.
Overall, despite all of these freaky occurrences, the best thing to do is to educate ourselves on these issues and remain calm.