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更新时间:2020-5-11 6:36:27 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名 浏览:

‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet

BLAINE, Wash. — In his decades of beekeeping, Ted McFall had never seen anything like it.

华盛顿州布莱恩——在数十年的养蜂生涯中,泰德·麦克福尔(Ted McFall)从未看到过这样的情况。

As he pulled his truck up to check on a group of hives near Custer, Wash., in November, he could spot from the window a mess of bee carcasses on the ground. As he looked closer, he saw a pile of dead members of the colony in front of a hive and more carnage inside — thousands and thousands of bees with their heads torn from their bodies and no sign of a culprit.


“I couldn’t wrap my head around what could have done that,” Mr. McFall said.


Only later did he come to suspect that the killer was what some researchers simply call the “murder hornet.”


With queens that can grow to two inches long, Asian giant hornets can use mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins to wipe out a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the bees and flying away with the thoraxes to feed their young. For larger targets, the hornet’s potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened to hot metal driving into their skin.


In Japan, the hornets kill up to 50 people a year. Now, for the first time, they have arrived in the United States.


Mr. McFall still is not certain that Asian giant hornets were responsible for the plunder of his hive. But two of the predatory insects were discovered last fall in the northwest corner of Washington State, a few miles north of his property — the first sightings in the United States.


Scientists have since embarked on a full-scale hunt for the hornets, worried that the invaders could decimate bee populations in the United States and establish such a deep presence that all hope for eradication could be lost.


“This is our window to keep it from establishing,” said Chris Looney, an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done.”

“这是我们阻止大黄蜂在这里立足的一线机会,”华盛顿州农业部的昆虫学家克里斯·鲁尼(Chris Looney)说。“如果我们不能在未来两年内做到这点,就可能无法阻止它们了。”

On a cold morning in early December, two and a half miles to the north of Mr. McFall’s property, Jeff Kornelis stepped on his front porch with his terrier-mix dog. He looked down to a jarring sight: “It was the biggest hornet I’d ever seen.”

去年12月初的一个寒冷的早晨,在麦克福尔家以北四公里的地方,杰夫·科尔内利斯(Jeff Kornelis)带着他的混种猎犬踏上自家的前廊。他低头看到了一幅令人震惊的景象:“这是我见过的最大的大黄蜂。”

The insect was dead, and after inspecting it, Mr. Kornelis had a hunch that it might be an Asian giant hornet. It did not make much sense, given his location in the world, but he had seen an episode of the YouTube personality Coyote Peterson getting a brutal sting from one of the hornets.

这只昆虫已死,对其进行了仔细检查后,科尔内利斯凭直觉认为,这可能是一只亚洲大黄蜂。考虑到他家在世界上的地理位置,这有点不可思议,但他看过YouTube名人凯奥特·彼特森(Coyote Peterson)的一段被一只大黄蜂狠狠螫了一下的视频。

Beyond its size, the hornet has a distinctive look, with a cartoonishly fierce face featuring teardrop eyes like Spider-Man, orange and black stripes that extend down its body like a tiger, and broad, wispy wings like a small dragonfly.


Mr. Kornelis contacted the state, which came out to confirm that it was indeed an Asian giant hornet. Soon after, they learned that a local beekeeper in the area had also found one of the hornets.
Dr. Looney said it was immediately clear that the state faced a serious problem, but with only two insects in hand and winter coming on, it was nearly impossible to determine how much the hornet had already made itself at home.


Over the winter, state agriculture biologists and local beekeepers got to work, preparing for the coming season. Ruthie Danielsen, a beekeeper who has helped organize her peers to combat the hornet, unfurled a map across the hood of her vehicle, noting the places across Whatcom County where beekeepers have placed traps.

整个冬天,该州的农业生物学家和当地养蜂人都在为即将到来的季节做准备工作。帮助组织同行与大黄蜂做斗争的养蜂人露丝·丹妮尔森(Ruthie Danielsen)在自汽车的引擎盖上铺开一张地图,上面标出了霍特科姆县各地的养蜂人设置了捕蜂器的地方。

“Most people are scared to get stung by them,” Ms. Danielsen said. “We’re scared that they are going to totally destroy our hives.”


Adding to the uncertainty — and mystery — were some other discoveries of the Asian giant hornet across the border in Canada.


In November, a single hornet was seen in White Rock, British Columbia, perhaps 10 miles away from the discoveries in Washington State — likely too far for the hornets to be part of the same colony. Even earlier, there had been a hive discovered on Vancouver Island, across a strait that probably was too wide for a hornet to have crossed from the mainland.


Crews were able to track down the hive on Vancouver Island. Conrad Bérubé, a beekeeper and entomologist in the town of Nanaimo, was assigned to exterminate it.

工作人员在温哥华岛上追踪到了蜂巢。纳奈莫镇的养蜂人和昆虫学家康莱德·贝鲁布(Conrad Bérubé)接到了消灭它的任务。

He set out at night, when the hornets would be in their nest. He put on shorts and thick sweatpants, then his bee suit. He donned Kevlar braces on his ankles and wrists.


But as he approached the hive, he said, the rustling of the brush and the shine of his flashlight awakened the colony. Before he had a chance to douse the nest with carbon dioxide, he felt the first searing stabs in his leg — through the bee suit and underlying sweatpants.


“It was like having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh,” he said. He ended up getting stung at least seven times, some of the stings drawing blood.


Jun-ichi Takahashi, a researcher at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, said the species had earned the “murder hornet” nickname there because its aggressive group attacks can expose victims to doses of toxic venom equivalent to that of a venomous snake; a series of stings can be fatal.

日本京都产业大学(Kyoto Sangyo University)的研究员高桥纯一(Jun-ichi Takahashi)说,该物种在日本获得了“杀人蜂”的绰号,因为其凶猛的集体攻击可使受害者暴露于与毒蛇相同剂量的毒液中;一系列的刺伤可能致命。

The night he got stung, Mr. Bérubé still managed to eliminate the nest and collect samples, but the next day, his legs were aching, as if he had the flu. Of the thousands of times he has been stung in his lifetime of work, he said, the Asian giant hornet stings were the most painful.


After collecting the hornet in the Blaine area, state officials took off part of a leg and shipped it to an expert in Japan. A sample from the Nanaimo nest was sent as well.


A genetic examination, concluded over the past few weeks, determined that the nest in Nanaimo and the hornet near Blaine were not connected, said Telissa Wilson, a state pest biologist, meaning there had probably been at least two different introductions in the region.

州害虫学家泰莉莎·威尔逊(Telissa Wilson)说,过去几周完成的基因检查确定了纳奈莫的蜂巢和布莱恩附近的大黄蜂之间没有联系,这意味着该地区可能有两拨不同的大黄蜂。

Dr. Looney went out on a recent day in Blaine, carrying clear jugs that had been made into makeshift traps; typical wasp and bee traps available for purchase have holes too small for the Asian giant hornet. He filled some with orange juice mixed with rice wine, others had kefir mixed with water, and a third batch was filled with some experimental lures — all with the hope of catching a queen emerging to look for a place to build a nest.


He hung them from trees, geo-tagging each location with his phone.


In a region with extensive wooded habitats for hornets to establish homes, the task of finding and eliminating them is daunting. How to find dens that may be hidden underground? And where to look, given that one of the queens can fly many miles a day, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour?


The miles of wooded landscapes and mild, wet climate of western Washington State makes for an ideal location for the hornets to spread.


In the coming months, Mr. Looney said, he and others plan to place hundreds more traps. State officials have mapped out the plan in a grid, starting in Blaine and moving outward.


The buzz of activity inside a nest of Asian giant hornets can keep the inside temperature up to 86 degrees, so the trackers are also exploring using thermal imaging to examine the forest floors. Later, they may also try other advanced tools that could track the signature hum the hornets make in flight.


If a hornet does get caught in a trap, Dr. Looney said, there are plans to possibly use radio-frequency identification tags to monitor where it goes — or simply attach a small streamer and then follow the hornet as it returns to its nest.


While most bees would be unable to fly with a disruptive marker attached, that is not the case with the Asian giant hornet. It is big enough to handle the extra load.