As 2020’s relentless news cycle continues to churn away, bringing us new hellish days of U.S. politics, the COVID-19 pandemic and whatever else is on the news docket on any given day, it’s easy to forget stories from earlier in the year. “Tiger King,” panic-buying toilet paper and that one week where everything was cake have largely left our collective memories.
But as Alanis Morisette once (sort of) said, the murder hornets are here to remind you of the mess they made — and they’re not going away.
That’s right, one of the superstars of the early pandemic news cycle is still here and still causing chaos.
Researchers near Blaine, Washington — a small city close to the U.S.-Canada border — destroyed an Asian giant hornet nest this past weekend.
The basketball-sized nest housed over 100 of the insects known and feared as “murder hornets” and researchers descended upon it with vacuums and sting-proof suits like something out of a sci-fi film.
It was the first nest discovered in the U.S., but the invading insects have been present on Vancouver Island dating back to last year and have subsequently been found in other parts of B.C. and Washington state.
The hornets get their nickname from, well, their love of murdering. A small group of hornets can invade a beehive and kill all of the bees — usually by decapitating them — in a matter of hours.
WATCH: What you need to know about murder hornets in Canada. Story continues below.
Researchers are rushing to find and eliminate as many hornets as possible as the insects enter their most murderous season.
“Asian giant hornets this time of year start going into what we call the slaughter phase,” entomologist Sven-Erik Spichiger told the Seattle Times on Oct. 2.
“They will visit apiaries, basically mark a hive, attack it in force, removing every bee from the hive, decapitating them, killing all of the workers, and then spending the next few days harvesting the brood and the pupae out of the hive as a food source.”
Looking forward to the horror movie inspired by THAT this time next year.
But if you’re already having nightmares of murder hornets coming to murder you in your sleep, don’t worry — the murdering season doesn’t apply to people. While their sting can hurt, murder hornets kill, at most, a few dozen people a year in Asia.
The “slaughter phase” can have a decimating effect on honeybee populations, however. Officials are encouraging people to “track, not whack” the hornets in order to identify any more nests and eliminate them before the slaughtering gets too bad.
“Track it, don’t whack it,” Spichiger said. “We want to take out the nest so we don’t have more next year.”
Because let’s be real, more murder hornets is the last thing we need in 2021.