What Are the Murder Hornets Trying to Tell Us?

What Are the Murder Hornets Trying to Tell Us?
Photo:Elaine Thompson / POOL / AFP (Getty Images)

Recently I was texting an old editor when we got onto the subject of the many mysterious clown sightings that preceded the 2016 election.

“I can’t believe we didn’t take them for the omen they clearly were,” she wrote. “Look, there are killer clowns in the woods. Anyway, can’t wait for the first woman president!

As it turned out, those clown sightings were mostly hoaxes. But my editor was right that if we hadn’t been so sure Hillary Clinton was on the path to victory, we might have seen them as portents of doom.

So what do we make now of the murder hornets, hm?

Earlier this week, entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture tracked down the first-known murder hornet nest in the United States. The hive was about the size of a basketball, according to the Guardian, and contained as many as 200 hornets, which are typically about 2 inches long with 6 mm stingers. (They mostly use these stingers, and the venom inside, to kill honeybees, not people.)

A crew, clad in thick hazmat suits, destroyed the nest on Saturday, vacuuming the insects from the cavity of a tree into large canisters. The WSDA declared victory over the murder hornets from its official Twitter account shortly after, writing, “Got ‘em.”

The WSDA’s battle against the frighteningly large insects, first spotted in the U.S. in July, isn’t over yet. The crew will have to return to the tree where the hornets made their nest to account for any newborn hornets and to see if any queen murder hornets have left the hive. But so far, the mission “appears to have been successful,” the WSDA wrote in a statement.

So, the murder hornets have been vanquished…for now. But what have they been trying to tell us?

I guess we’ll find out in about nine days.

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