Life presents us with teachable moments about ourselves everyday. Unfortunately, most people miss the teachable moment because centuries of cultural conditioning via the media make it difficult to separate fact from sensationalism, objectivity from ideology, and perspective from incredulity.
Take the photo that opens this post…
Unless you live under a rock or don’t have access to social media, you know this is a picture of a “murder hornet”, a genus of hornet that is “invading North America” and is capable of not only wiping out the honeybee population, but can also kill people.
What a great time for the media to inform the public about yet another natural menace that can disrupt human activities that keep the economy going (during an election year)!
Not only can you not visit Grandma and Grandpa for fear of making them deathly ill or leave your house for fear of making someone else’s grandparent deathly ill, or have to wear a mask (that people sell), but you can’t barbeque on your patio or deck because you might attract a murder hornet or two!
Does anyone know the proper name for the “murder hornet”?
The scientific name for the insect in the photo that the media dubs as a “murder hornet” is Vespa mandarinia. The common name is the Asian Giant Hornet.
Here are some facts to help you filter through the media sensationalism:
FACT: Asian Giant Hornets are capable of killing a person, however, even in Japan (part of the hornet species’ natural habitat) deaths by Giant Hornets are exceedingly rare, significantly less than deaths by bees and wasps. This is highly contingent upon whether you are allergic to the hornet’s (or the bee’s or the wasp’s) venom and how many stings you receive. It does have a painful sting (it’s a big wasp, duh). Anecdotally speaking, I lived in South Korea for 15 months and never once saw a Giant Hornet despite being in the middle of their indigenous area.
FACT: Asian Giant Hornets do kill entire honeybee populations for food (they feed their own larvae honeybee larvae), but Asian honeybees have evolved to combat and kill the Giant Hornets who invade their colonies in a very unique and fascinating way:
FACT: Asian Giant Hornets are a delicacy throughout much of the hornet’s natural habitat. In fact, it’s safe to say that humans are the biggest threat to the Asian Giant Hornet as they are consumed as part of normal diets in the areas where they are found. This is particularly common in the mountains of Japan where the Asian Giant Hornet populations are in the highest abundance. Despite its size and bad temper, numbers of the Asian Giant Hornet are declining in certain areas.
Source of above facts: https://a-z-animals.com/animals/asian-giant-hornet/
My advice to my readers (as always) is to do your own research from scholarly sources and do some critical thinking before swallowing the media’s sensationalism posing as fact hook, line, and sinker.
There is a reason stories like “Murder Hornets Invading America” are devoid of the facts I just posted about the Asian Giant Hornet here. I can assure you that the media wants you fearful rather informed.
-The Rational Ram