Oh yes. Murderous hornets. Do you remember these guys?
At some point during this pandemic-fueled blurring that modern history has become, probably somewhere between Tiger King and toilet paper hysteria being things, we were informed that the next little bundle of joy that heading our way was something called murder hornets.
Because… of course. Why wouldn’t murder hornets fall upon us like some kind of Hitchcockian nightmare? It was starting to feel like humanity was being played by Charlie Brown, and Lucy kept taking football away from us. And then, like, she started throwing murder hornets at us as we raced to take off, giving up all semblance of our sanity and dignity along the way.
But, alas, the murder hornets never really hit Ocean View, or the surrounding area. And they were probably misnamed murder hornets in the first place, if we’re being honest.
“My usual plea is for people to stop calling them ‘murder hornets’ because they’re big and maybe scary, but not really deadly,” said Professor James Nieh, from the University of California, San Diego. , in an interview with goodnewsnetwork.org. “These are amazing social insects, but they don’t belong in North America and are harming our critical bee populations, so we should remove them.”
Nieh recently authored a study on how to both monitor the movements of murder hornets and potentially end a destructive invasion, both in North America and abroad. And his answer is an answer that has existed since the dawn of time: sex.
The study argues that a hornet queen’s sex pheromones can be used to bait and trap insects, as well as track their movements. According to the article, three of the main chemicals found in the queen sex pheromones identified by the researchers were hexanoic, octnoic and decanoic acids.
Rather than pretending I know what any of these words mean, let’s go ahead and assume it’s something revolutionary. I’m going to pause for a moment so we can all enjoy it and catch our collective breath.
“Males are attracted to the scents of females because they usually mate with them near their nests,” Nieh explained. “In two seasons in the field, we were able to quickly collect thousands of amles attracted by these odors.”
The hope, as I read it, is that researchers around the world can turn off these traps, determine where these murder hornets are and when they are moving, and be able to better understand their movements. Additionally, by trapping large numbers of males, they hope this will cause a massive reduction in the insects’ ability to mate and increase their population exponentially.
Scientifically speaking, the correct name for these flying carriers of death and destruction is Vespa mandarinia, or Asian giant hornets. But that doesn’t quite have the same cachet as “murder hornets,” does it? Vespa mandarinia elicits no mental imagery of insects with bandoliers strapped across their tattooed chests sweeping the city in an inverted V formation as they send their intended prey hurtling in a panic race for life that… .
But I digress.
To their immense credit, Nieh and his team of researchers decided not to patent this discovery – opting instead to publish their findings so that others could step in and help document the Mandarinia Vespa the spread of the murder hornet.
“We hope others, especially in overgrown areas, will take the protocol we have established and test this method,” Nieh explained. “We’ve described the chemical mixes needed for these traps, which might reduce the number of males available to mate with females to help reduce the population, but would mainly help us determine where they are.”
In all seriousness, this is important work by Nieh and his colleagues. Bees have been at risk for some time now, and their contributions to our food chain by pollinating crops should not be underestimated. If they can be protected by the work being done by these researchers and by those carrying the torch in other parts of the world, that’s really great.
Also, there is an action thriller written all over it. Can’t you imagine The Rock playing a killer hornet special ops leader, while Natalie Portman saves the day as a hornet queen luring insects to their certain death, while…
I think I digressed again. Sorry.