Good Question: Are 'murder hornets' in local neighborhoods?

Brennan Somers
Updated: May 28, 2020 08:32 AM
Created: May 28, 2020 06:19 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Our Good Question on Thursday has to do with concerns over those so-called “murder hornets.”

Some of you reached out to News10NBC’s Brennan Somers wanting to know: Are they here in Rochester and the Finger Lakes?

For starters, the term "murder hornets" isn't their real name. That name took off trending online following a New York Times report on stopping them from annihilating honeybees.

They are Asian giant hornets.

The first spotting of the 2-inch Asian giant hornet, or Vespa mandarinia, was verified in the United States in December, according to the Washington state Agriculture Department.

A viewer from our region sent News10NBC some photos looking to confirm what showed up at her house.

We sent those pics to the insect and bee experts at Cornell. They say here in New York, we still don't have any confirmed cases of the Asian giant hornets. They guess it could be several years before we see them, if it all.

Chances are it also isn’t an Africanized honeybee. The species nicknamed "killer bees” caused a public scare in the 1970s.

They say what's in these photos looks more like a European hornet.

In a report by the AP, University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum said of the worry, “People are afraid of the wrong thing. The scariest insect out there are mosquitoes. People don’t think twice about them. If anyone’s a murder insect, it would be a mosquito.”

Mosquitoes are responsible for millions of yearly deaths worldwide from malaria, dengue fever and other diseases, according to the World Health Organization.

Asian giant hornets at most kill a few dozen people a year and some experts said it's probably far less. Hornet, wasp and bee stings kill on average 62 people a year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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