More deadly than the killer bee, and almost three times the size, the Japanese Giant Hornet is a threat to be reckoned with. They can be identified by their long, hairless bodies, black and gold striped abdomen, along with a black thorax and wings. Averaging more than two inches long, the Japanese Giant Hornet earns its name with ease. They can be further identified by their long curved antennae, which matches the color of their head: dark orange or gold. Over forty people die each year as a result of stings. These hornets can sting repeatedly since their sting barbed which allows it to remain attached to their body, unlike typical bees who can only sting once because the stinger detaches.
Japanese Giant Hornet nests look much like any other hornet nest, burrowing in the ground, old tree trunks, and in and around house foundations. The difference between a regular hornet’s nest and a Japanese Giant Hornet nest is obviously the size difference. Like the species themselves, their nest will be much larger than a typical hornet burrow. A native to the Japanese Islands, the Japanese Giant Hornet is extremely rare in any part of the United States. However, heed caution as there have been some instances lately of the hornet spreading to other parts of Asia. Hopefully the hornet keeps the United States off of its vacation list!
Japanese Giant Hornets feast on other flying insects, such as the European Honey Bee and larva, in a most gruesome manner. Rather than hunting and bringing the entire catch back to their hive, the Japanese Giant Hornet dismembers their prey on site, and brings its thorax and wings back for food, leaving the head and abdomen. Japanese Giant Hornets are actually so lethal that a mere thirty can eradicate an entire hive of 30,000 bees in less than four hours.
Humans are the main threat to the Japanese Giant Hornet. Considered a delicacy when fried, the hornets are harvested and prepared, then sold in rural villages in the mountains of Japan. They are currently considered a threatened species.