Hornet SWAG

The Japanese giant hornet is, as the name would imply, the largest hornet in the world and a native species to japan and eastern Asia. The hornets are the most dangerous animal to humans in japan, as they kill about thirty to forty people a year. However they are still regarded as beneficial because a large part of their diet consists of crop pests. Worker hornets leave the hive to kill and dismember their prey. The workers are unable to digest their food so they bring home the nutrient rich abdomens of their prey to their larva back at home in their nest. The larva digest the food and secrete a clear fluid that the workers are then able to eat.

While the hornets do not actively seek out anything other than insects for food they are still dangerous to large animals because of their venom. The stings are not extremely dangerous compared to other hornets however they are able to inject a very large dose with each sting and they are able to sting several times in quick succession. Stings cause tissue and nervous damage that lead to large amounts of pain as well as possibilities of cardiac arrest or multiple organ failure if an individual has been stung enough. The majority of human deaths are caused by allergic reactions to the stings.

However killing their prey the hornets don’t primarily use their stingers. They use their mandibles. Most of the hornet’s prey can’t pierce their carapace so while hunting the workers are able to kill their prey one by one by holding them still and cutting them into pieces with their mandibles. Usually removing the heads of all their victims first then returning later to take the abdomens back to the nest.

In Japanese bee keeps prefer to European honey bees over the native ones for honey production in farms. However the European honey bees haven’t evolved any defense against the Japanese giant hornets. If a hornet worker is out hunting and finds a beehive she marks it with pheromones and then returns later with about 30 other workers. The European bees fight to defend their hive and young with their lives but they cannot touch the hornets. Each individual hornet can kill a bee every one and a half seconds and the thirty of them can reduce an entire hive to a pile of heads and corpses in under three hours. The hornets can then feed their young with the bodies for weeks.

The Japanese honey bees however are able defend themselves against the hornets in a very unique way. They recognize the scout worker before she marks the hive and they retreat inside of it. The hornet enters the hive and when she does the bees as one surround her as tightly as they can with a huge number of bees. Then instead of stinging they vibrate their wings so fast that through muscular exertion they heat the ball to 117 degrees; just hot enough to kill the hornet but not the bees.

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