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Entomologist says “murder hornet” not anything to worry about in Michigan anytime soon

Close up image of the Asian giant hornet
Eduardo Gonzalez
Adobe Stock

One Michigan entomologist says the state won’t have to worry about “murder hornets” for many years, if ever.

So-called “murder hornets” - a giant Asian hornet so named because of its habit of massacring and even decapitating entire honey bee hives - have been spotted in Washington state.

But Mark VanderWerp, an entomologist with Troy-based Rose Pest Solutions, said Michigan doesn’t need to worry about the hornet anytime soon.

“We would expect that they would eventually make it to Michigan. But hornets don’t spread real rapidly so this would probably take a matter of decades. It wouldn’t be next year or anything like that.”

VanderWerp said it is not yet clear if the species has established itself in North America - or if the few sightings were just a fluke.

He said it’s likely the giant hornet was shipped to the United States for food. The insect is considered a delicacy in Japan.

“People have tried to ship them into the country in the past as food items, live pupae. That is a pretty plausible explanation for how you get an Asian giant hornet in a new place. Someone let their pupae grow up and fly away before they ate them.”

VanderWerp said with any invasive species, there’s concern about what they will do to native insects.

“The outdoorsy folks may come to hate these things but with any invasive species you don’t know what they’re going to do. If these things have the ability to push some species over the edge into extinction or further stress declining species that would be bad. We just don’t have answers on that.”

VanderWerp said the big thing to get across is that invasive species are bad news. He said even if “murder hornets” don’t end up coming to Michigan, it’s worth talking about the danger invasive species pose.

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