Giant Asian Hornets Are Killing People In China, Breeding In Larger Numbers: Reports (UPDATED)

Oct 01, 2013 | Updated Oct 04, 2013

What's the buzz about giant Asian hornets? They'll kill you painfully and thoroughly -- and they've been reported in the U.S.

Climate change might be contributing to a global rise in insect numbers. As if that weren't bad enough, some of the bugs that appear to be benefitting from that population surge are giant Asian hornets that are killing people unfortunate enough to disturb them.

UPDATE: Oct. 4, 7:45 p.m. -- Citing Chinese government sources, CNN reports that at least 42 people have died and 1,675 have been injured as a result of giant Asian hornets in Shaanxi province since July.

Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwest Biological Institute in Tucson, Ariz., told CNN that Vespa mandarinia carries a venom that destroys red blood cells, which can result in kidney failure and death, and noted that allergies to the venom can trigger cardiac arrest or cause airways to close.

More from CNN:

According to The Guardian, at least "28 people have died and hundreds have been injured in a wave of attacks by giant hornets in central China." The hornets, also known as Vespa mandarinia, have reportedly "chased [victims] for hundreds of meters... and stung [them] as many as 200 times."

The venom from the stings can cause anaphylactic shock and kidney failure, the Guardian reported (as if you wouldn't die from sheer terror). Imagine getting stung 200 times by one of these:

Chances are, you won't be, since these are queens, but the run-of-the mill variety of Vespa mandarinia are also pretty terrifying. The average stinger on a giant Asian hornet measures about a quarter-inch.

But before we "turn Earth over to the wasps," as Gawker suggested, let's stop and consider that normal-sized stinging insects already do plenty of damage.

For starters, there's the killer bee swarm deaths that are periodically reported in the United States.

Swarming bees have also killed pets and animals as large as horses.

And lets not forget insect pests of the non-bee variety. Crazy ants, an invasive species that's making inroads in the southern U.S., not only bite -- they also destroy electrical wiring.

If humans can live with these pests, then giant Asian hornets shouldn't present too much of a challenge, right? We might soon find out: The hornets were reported in Illinois last year.

In 2013, cicada killer wasps were also spotted in the region.

Vespa mandarinia japonica, a subspecies of the giant Asian hornet

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