This year in Japan up to 40 people may die from the stings of the largest hornet in the world. This hornet is known as the Asian Giant Hornet or Vespa Mandarinia. It can grow to 2 inches long with a wingspan of 3 inches. This giant can range up to 60 miles in a day and fly at speeds between 25 and 40 MPH. Thankfully it’s not in the U.S.
The 1/4 inch stinger can give a very painful sting, and can, unlike bees, sting multiple times. Its venom has at least 8 separate toxins. One serves to intensify the pain and swelling while another gives off a chemical signal for other hornets to come help. It also releases enzymes that can “melt” human tissues causing sores similar to spider bites.
The most severe damage is done to bee hives. These predators can destroy a beehive of 30,000 bees in a matter of a few hours. It is a battle of epic proportions as individual hornets with their powerful mandibles kill as many as 30 bees per minute, most by decapitation.
Once they have killed all the bees in the hive they feast on honey, and take the bee larvae to feed to their larvae. The adult hornets make a paste out of the bee larvae to feed to their young, the byproduct of the paste is a clear liquid that the adults drink for energy. The liquid is sold in Asia as an energy drink.
But some Asian bees have an amazing defense against this powerful predator. When the scout approaches the hive the bees lure it into the hive, then hundreds of bees cover it while vibrating their bodies. The vibration produces extreme heat. The heat necessary to kill the hornet is 2 degrees less than the bee, so the bees heat the wasp to just the right temperature then stop. Another series of complex systems and behaviors integrated together by an amazing Creator.