It's no secret that Earth has got a lot of problems and, if you live here, you already know that I am talking about wasps. There are so many wasps here. Each one is a problem. According to recent reports out of China, 21 people have died as a result of wasp stings over the past three months in the province of Shaanxi alone. It might be time to just pack up our bags and return to the moons we came from. Might be time to turn Earth over to the wasps.
The wasps that have been killing people aren't just any old wasps. They're thought to be Vespa mandarinia, or, "Asian giant hornets." Asian giant hornets are the largest hornets in the world. They're the Asia of hornets, in fact. The average one grows to 2.2 inches in length, which is small compared to a car but TERRIFYINGLY HUGE when you consider it is a wasp the size of a meatball. If you never want to feel peace again, you can check out an image of four (dead) queen hornets—which are even bigger than workers and males—here, with a hand to give them scale.
This year, the hornet attacks in China have been more frequent than usual; one health official suggested to the AP that warmer temperatures have led to increased breeding among the insects. The mayor of one affected city in Shaanxi announced last week plans to establish a 24-hour emergency response team to combat hornets in light of the recent fatalities. (Wasp season in China runs from May to November.)
Even if you are lucky enough not to die of acute renal failure as a result of Vespa mandarinia's sting, the experience of being being attacked by a swarm of meatball-sized insects (which can travel about 60 miles per day at speeds of nearly 25 mph), sounds, somehow, even more hellish than you would expect. This CNN write-up of survivors' testimonials reads like a catalogue of nightmares:
The more you run, the more they want to chase you," said another victim, whose kidneys were ravaged by the venom.
Earlier this month, 30 people — including 23 primary school children aged between six and eight years — were injured in a hornet attack in Guangxi province, south of Shaanxi. Their teacher, Li Zhiqiang, told his students to hide under tables as he tried to drive away the insects before he lost consciousness.
Doctors counted more than 200 stings on another patient's body.
Last summer, some Asian giant hornets were spotted in Illinois.
[Image via Addicted2Hymenoptra]