China's giant hornet problem
Posted 03 October 2013 - 01:09 PM
Posted 03 October 2013 - 01:36 PM
... If you have to add anything to your coffee, you should probably switch to tea...
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. TERRY PRATCHETT
It's tough to learn from your past, if you keep re-writing history.
Posted 03 October 2013 - 04:15 PM
Posted 03 October 2013 - 04:23 PM
ANIAFT . . . .
Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.
Posted 03 October 2013 - 10:28 PM
Edited by silylene, 03 October 2013 - 10:29 PM.
Posted 06 October 2013 - 07:39 PM
Posted 07 October 2013 - 08:33 AM
Cripes, possibly as many as 1400 people have been killed by giant hornets in the last 6-9 months. See end of this long article from PROMED. Also in Japan they eat giant hornets, and make energy drinks from their venom!
Published Date: 2013-10-06 22:42:03
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Asian giant hornet stings, human deaths - China
Archive Number: 20131006.1986073
ASIAN GIANT HORNET STINGS, HUMAN DEATHS - CHINA
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 4 Oct 2013
Source: The Guardian
The Chinese city living in fear of giant killer hornets
Jonathan Kaiman visits Ankang municipality where swarms of highly venomous hornets have killed 41 people in 3 months
Link to video "China: surge in fatal hornet attacks in Shaanxi province " at http://www.theguardi...-province-video
Chen pointed with a shaky hand at the small plot of cabbage, spring onions and corn where his friend, Yu Yihong, had been stung to death by giant hornets.
"When he got to the hospital, there were still 2 hornets in his trousers," said Chen, a farmer who, like many villagers, declined to give his full name to a foreign journalist. "The hornets' poison was too strong - his liver and kidneys failed, and he couldn't urinate."
Yu, a square-jawed 40-year-old farmer in perfect health, had been harvesting his crops when he stepped on a nest of _Vespa mandarinia_ hornets concealed beneath a pile of dry corn husks. The hornets swarmed around Yu, stinging him through his long-sleeved shirt and trousers. He ran, but the hornets chased him, stinging his arms and legs, his head and neck.
After Yu succumbed to the poison about 50 of his friends and relatives gathered to mourn his passing. Outside the farmer's mountainside home in Yuanba village, they ate preserved eggs, buckwheat noodles and boiled peanuts in silence; one set off a string of fireworks. Yu's wife and 2 children sat inside, weeping.
_V mandarinia_ is the world's largest hornet, around the size of a human adult's thumb, yellow and black in colour and highly venomous. Its 6mm-long stingers carry a venom potent enough to dissolve human tissue. Victims may die of kidney failure or anaphylactic shock.
Yu's story is a tragic but increasingly common one in north-west China's Shaanxi province, where, over the past three months alone, hornets have killed 41 people and injured a further 1,675. Ankang, a municipality in the province's south, appears to be the centre of the attacks. While hornets infest its mountainous rural areas every year - 36 residents were stung to death between 2002 and 2005 - local people and municipal officials say this year it is tantamount to an epidemic, the worst they have ever seen.
At least some of the deaths were caused by _V mandarinia_, experts say. The species does not typically attack unless it feels its nest is threatened. But when it does, it can be fierce and fast - the hornets can fly at 25mph and cover 50 miles in a day. They make their homes in tree stumps or underground, making nests extremely difficult to detect.
People blame this year's scourge on climate change: the past year has been unusually warm, allowing a high number of hornets to survive the winter. Huang Ronghui, an official at the Ankang Forestry Bureau's pest control department, lists a host of other possibilities: the hornets may have been agitated by a dry spell, while labourers have been moving deeper into the mountains, disturbing their nests. "Other than this, hornets are attracted to bright colours and the smell of people's sweat, alcohol and sweet things," he told state media. "They're sensitive to movement, such as running people or animals."
The region has also been overrun by the Asian hornet, _Vespa velutina_, a slightly smaller species which can be equally dangerous. Hundreds, even thousands, inhabit each nest, which typically hangs from a high place. In Chengxing village, a few miles down a winding mountain road from Yu's home village, 16-year-old Tan Xingjian pointed at a tree in the distance. Hanging from one thick branch was a pale, basketball-sized bulb, its surface alive with darting black specks. "That's where they live," Tan said. "We don't dare to go near there."
Ankang is on alert, with the local authorities posting warning notices online, on roadside treetrunks and on primary school walls. The crisis has exhausted Gong Zhenghong, the spiky-haired mayor of Hongshan township in rural Ankang. Since September, Gong has spent nearly every night wandering the township exterminating nests. He says there are 248 hornet nests in Hongshan, with 175 close to schools and roads.
Gong and his team survey nests by day; once the sun sets, they dress in homemade anti-hornet suits made from rain jackets and canvas, and burn the nests with spray-can flamethrowers. "They don't fly around at night," he said. Sometimes the team begins work in the late evening and doesn't finish until 2am. "We'd normally send the fire squad to do this, but this year there were too many nests." Gong left his office, returned with a black rubbish bag, and pulled out the charred remains of a nest, the blackened tails of bulb-like larvae protruding from its combs.
Two other cities in Shaanxi - Hanzhong and Shangluo - have also been besieged by hornets, though the death tolls have been markedly lower. In southern China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, a swarm of hornets attacked a primary school in mid-September, injuring 23 children and 7 adults. The teacher, Li Zhiqiang, told pupils to hide under their desks and tried to fight the creatures off until he lost consciousness, state media reported.
The hornets seem ubiquitous in Ankang. In Liushui township, a scattering of 2-storey concrete homes sandwiched between a lush hillside and a stagnant river, an elderly shopkeeper in a purple blazer said the hornets had infested a cabbage patch near her home. "The government has been coming down and burning them, but they can't burn them all," she added, pointing down into the brush. "I'm not willing to go down there."
Mu Conghui, a 55-year-old Ankang villager, was stung 200 times while tending her rice field in late August. "These hornets are terrifying - all at once they flew to my head, and when I stopped, they stung me so much that I couldn't budge," she told state media. "My legs were crawling with hornets. Right now my legs are covered with small sting holes - over the past 2 months I've received 13 dialysis treatments."
The Ankang government says it has removed 710 hives and sent 7m yuan (£707,000) to help affected areas. "We're doing everything we can, but there's only so much we can do," says Deng Xianghong, the deputy head of the Ankang propaganda department. "God has been unfair to us."
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Kunihiko Iizuka
[Please go to the original site and view the photos of the size of this hornet. The stinger is a staggering size. The video of the wounds leaves one in pain to just see it.
The Asian Giant Hornet, _Vespa mandarinia_, a species native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia, is the world's largest hornet. Adults can be up to 4.5 cm (1.8 inches) long (queens reach 5.5 cm long) and have a 6-8 mm (0.25 inches) sting which injects a large amount of potent venom and a wing span of around 7 cm. Hornets have an orange head, black mandibles and a black and golden body. The Asian Giant Hornet has 2 sets of eyes, one compound and one ocelli, both of which are brown in color along with their legs. Unlike other species of wasp, and indeed bees, the stinger of the Asian Giant Hornet is not barbed and therefore remains attached to its body once used. This means that Asian Giant Hornets are able to sting their victims repeatedly, each time injecting a complex venom. The venom injected by the stinger is incredibly potent and contains 8 different chemicals, each with a specific purpose. These range from tissue degeneration and breathing difficulties, to making the sting more painful and even attracting other hornets to the victim.
The Asian Giant Hornet is a relentless hunter that preys on other large insects, such as bees, other hornet species, and mantises. Asian Giant Hornets often and very effectively attack honey bee (genus _Apis_) hives. A single _V. mandarinia_ scout, sometimes 2 or 3, will cautiously approach the nest, giving off pheromones which will lead other hornets to the hive's location. Asian Giant Hornets, which are 5 times the size and 20 times the weight of a honey bee, can devastate a honey bee colony in a very short time; a single hornet can kill as many as 40 honey bees per minute thanks to its large mandibles. Once a hive is emptied of all defending bees, the hornets feed on the honey and carry the larvae back to feed to their own larvae. Adult Asian giant hornets cannot digest solid protein, so they do not eat their prey, but chew them into a paste and feed them to their larvae. Like many other vespid wasp species, adults themselves consume a clear liquid, _Vespa_ amino acid mixture, which is produced by their own larvae.
Due to the fact that the Asian Giant Hornet is an apex predator within its environment, it has no real natural predators. Humans pose the biggest threat to it, mainly as they are consumed as part of normal diets in the areas where they are found. This is particularly common in the mountains of Japan where the Asian Giant Hornet populations are in the most abundant.
The European honeybee (_Apis mellifora_), which has been imported for honey farming in Asia, has no natural defenses against giant Asian hornets and their hives are especially vulnerable to attack. However, _Apis_ species native to Asia (for example _Apis cerana japonica_) have evolved strategies for defeating _Vespa mandarinia_ attacks: if they detect an attacker in time the bee colony can form a "bee ball", surrounding the hornet to very effectively suffocate it.
Humans can get a powerful and intensely painful sting from _V. mandarina_. The venom it injects is powerful, and about 40 deaths per year are reported as a result of stings that cause kidney and liver failure if not treated fast enough. Although it usually does not attack unless threatened or disturbed, the giant hornet can attack quickly and fiercely, flying up to 40 km (25 miles)/hour.
In Japan, Asian Giant Hornets are sometimes eaten raw or fried. [It is interesting that the venom is not deadly when ingested raw. - Mod.JW] Recently, several companies in Asia and Europe have begun to manufacture dietary supplements and energy drinks which contain synthetic versions of _Vespa mandarinia_ larval amino acid secretion. The manufacturers of these products make claims that consuming the larval hornet secretions (marketed as "hornet juice") will enhance human endurance. (Handwerk 2002; Sugahara and Sakamoto 2009). A compound derived from _Vespa mandarinia_ larval saliva (called Vespa Amino Acid Mixture) is sold as a nutritional supplement. Mice that were administered VAAM have demonstrated increased swimming endurance, along with decreased lactate and increased glucose concentrations in their blood after swimming. These results suggest that VAAM inhibits muscle catabolism during endurance exercise and could be used to improve athletic performance. However, at the time of this writing, no peer-reviewed scientific evidence exists to suggest that this effect occurs in humans. (Abe et al., 1995).
Other reports indicated that about 1400 people have died in the region over the last 6-9 months.
Portions of this comment have been extracted from: http://a-z-animals.c...n-giant-hornet/ and http://eol.org/pages/259331/overview and http://animaldiversi...99-002500F14F28
Photos of this monster may be found on the original story site as well as at: http://a-z-animals.c...n-giant-hornet/
Posted 07 October 2013 - 10:00 AM
consuming larval hornet secretions ?????????????????????????
Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.
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