Giant hornet discovered in unsuspecting Japanese woman's wardrobe

The insects can bite the heads off bees and kill people

Will Worley
Friday 22 April 2016 12:11
The hornet was later removed safely
The hornet was later removed safely

A woman in Japan had an unwelcome surprise when she opened her cupboard to discover an enormous Japanese Giant Hornet nestling in her clothes.

The insects, which are often around 4.5cm long and have a sting which can pierce leather, are a sub-species of the Asian Giant Hornet, one of the most dangerous bugs in the world.

The woman, known by her Twitter handle @sun_s_k, posted the photos to social media, showing off the size of the hornet and asking for advice on dealing with it.

It is thought the specimen could be a Queen, which often emerge from hibernation in the spring months. Giant hornets are most active from August to October.

She later took care of the hornet using a compass and the incident passed off without injury. However, the species is known to sometimes behave very aggressively.

The sting of the Asian Giant Hornet is extremely painful, and can cause tissue and kidney damage.

Japanese Entomologist Masato Ono once described being stung as "like a hot nail through my leg."

In the worst cases, where victims are stung around 60 times or more, death may be caused by cardiac arrest, anaphylactic shock or multiple organ failure.

There are several dozen fatalities every year in Japan alone because of Asian Giant Hornet stings. However, one of the worst instances was in 2013, when a spate of hornet attacks killed 41 people and injured 1,600 more over several months in China’s Shaanxi province.

Despite this, Mr Ono remained in admiration of the insects, telling National Geographic: "They seem brutal to us, but they're just doing what they have to do to survive. They're excellent mothers and fierce protectors."

Asian Giant Hornets also pose a threat to other insects and can “devastate” honey bee colonies, according to entomologist Dr Chris Terrell-Nield of Nottingham Trent University.

“One hornet can kill 40 bees per minute, not by stinging them, but by biting off their heads,” wrote Dr Terrell-Nield. “Less than 50 can wipe out a 30,000-strong bee colony in a few hours.”

However, despite its status as a predator at the top of the food chain, numbers of Asian Giant Hornets are declining in some areas, largely because of deforestation depriving them of their natural habitat.

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