Vespa mandarinia — a.k.a. the Asian giant hornet or, as it’s come to be known in the U.S., the “murder hornet.”(Gary Alpert / en.wikipedia) By Jeanette Marantos Staff Writer May 8, 202012:39 PM
People, get a grip. Yes, the Asian giant hornet, now famously known as the “murder hornet,” is one huge scary wasp, capable of decimating an entire colony of honeybees and savagely stinging and possibly killing humans who get in their way.
But since last week, when it was reported that two hornets were spotted for the first time in Washington state, the national panic has led to the needless slaughter of native wasps and bees, beneficial insects whose populations are already threatened, said Doug Yanega, senior museum scientist for the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside. (Bees, for one, are the planet’s pollinators-in-chief, pollinating approximately 75% of the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Millions and millions of innocent native insects are going to die as a result of this,” Yanega said today. “Folks in China, Korea and Japan have lived side by side with these hornets for hundreds of years, and it has not caused the collapse of human society there. My colleagues in Japan, China and Korea are just rolling their eyes in disbelief at what kind of snowflakes we are.” Advertisement Ad
The worries started on May 2, after the New York Times reported that a beekeeper in Custer, Wash., found an entire hive of bees destroyed in November 2019, their heads ripped from their bodies. Then two Asian giant hornets were found near Blaine, just a few miles north, near the U.S.-Canadian border.
One of the hornets was found dead on a porch. The other reportedly flew away into the woods, Yanega said, and since then Washington entomologists have been on the lookout, encouraging residents to set out traps for the hornets so authorities can find and destroy any nests before they can grow. Advertisement null
Queens are the biggest of the world’s biggest hornets. They can grow to 2 inches from their cartoonish Spider-Man-type face (with vicious mandibles) to their quarter-inch-long stinger that can puncture heavy clothing. They hibernate, Yanega said, so scientists speculate that at least two hornet queens hitched a ride to the New World on a cargo ship, the first time it’s known to have happened “in over a century of significant maritime commerce between Vancouver and Southeast Asia.”
Asian giant hornets are native to Southeast Asia, Yanega said, so finding a knob of them at the western point of the Washington-British Columbia border was reason for alarm. A nest had been discovered and destroyed earlier that fall in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, around 80 miles from Blaine, Wash., but genetic tests showed that the dead hornet found on the porch was not related to the colony destroyed in Nanaimo, Yanega said.
Unlke honeybees, hornet queens create their first nests by themselves, he said, feeding their larvae until they hatch and become a little worker force. Then the queen “retires” to just lay eggs while the workers go out and collect food. Her early eggs are sterile, and she can’t create new queens until the fall.
Which is why, if there are nests in Washington, Yanega said, it’s important to find them now. “Queens have to go all the way from April to September before they can have their own reproductive offspring,” he said. “If we can intercept them any time in between there, we can kill them, and that’s that.”
But that’s in Washington, in the most northwest point of the contiguous U.S., and as of today there still haven’t been any reported sightings, Yanega said. In the meantime, freaked-out people across the U.S. have started putting out traps, Yanega said, and state apiarists (beekeepers) in Kentucky and Tennessee have announced plans to put out traps this month.
Unfortunately, the bait in those traps — a mixture of orange juice and rice cooking wine — is attractive to all kinds of native insects, Yanega said, and so far, that’s all people have been catching.
Considering the nuisance they can be at picnics and other outdoor events, some people might not fret about killing bees or wasps, giant or not, “but they are significant beneficial insects,” Yanega said. “They eat several times their weight in caterpillars from people’s vegetable gardens and ornamental plants, so indiscriminately killing them does much more harm than good.” Advertisement https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
Beekeepers in Asia have learned how to adapt to the hornets, using special screens to keep them out, and Japanese honeybees have even evolved to form their own defensive tactics, creating a “bee ball” around invading hornets to suffocate them, according to National Geographic. And in China and other countries, some people think the hornet pupae and larvae are delicious. “People consume them,” Yanega said. “You can buy them in cans.”
In fact, the hornets go by any number of names in Asia. Just in Japan alone, it’s known as the big hornet, the yellow hornet, the great whale bee and the great sparrow bee, Yanega said. The “murder hornet” name came from a TV Asahi television network, he said, which began using the name in one of its programs around 2004. Advertisement null
“It took all that time for that name to be translated into English for our newspapers, and it’s really unfortunate,” Yanega said.
“I don’t want to downplay this — they are logistically dangerous insects. But having people in Tennessee worry about this is just ridiculous. The only people who should be bothering experts with concerns about wasp IDs are living in the northwest quadrant of Washington (state). And really, right now, nobody else in the country should even be thinking about this stuff.”LifestyleLatestPlants Newsletter Eat your way across L.A.
Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more from critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega. You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times. Jeanette Marantos Jeanette Marantos has been a writer for the Los Angeles Times Homicide Report since 2015 and the Saturday garden section since 2016, a yin and yang that keeps her perspective in balance. More From the Los Angeles Times
In May of 1977, an unusual snow event occurred across parts of the Northeast. Before it was all over, one to two feet of snow blanketed some higher elevations. The snow was accompanied by high winds. Extensive tree and power line damage kept crews working for days to restore power.
Snow is not unheard of in May over parts of the Northeast, but many residents will refer to the Mother’s Day event in 1977. Actually, Mother’s Day (May 8th) was chilly with rain across much of the region. That night and into the next day, some dramatic changes were occurring in the upper atmosphere which would usher in cold air and change the rain to snow.
From parts of the Mid-Atlantic through Upstate New York and into New England, the landscape became whitened with snow on Monday, May 9th and the following night. The last flake didn’t stop falling until early on the 10th.
Heavy wet snow was accompanied by fierce winds across parts of New England. Massachusetts was particularly hard hit. There were blizzard conditions at times in eastern Massachusetts. There were wind gusts to 55 mph at times.
Boston only picked up .50 inches of snow but that set a record for the latest measurable snowfall. Foxboro, Massachusetts picked up 10 inches and 7 inches fell down to Providence, Rhode Island. For Providence, it was their only measurable snowfall in the 20th century. Heavier amounts of snow fell west of Boston with Worcester picking up 12.7 inches from the event.
One driver gave this description on a message board from www.americanwx.com about the storm :
I was out driving around the communities between 128 and 495.. Lincoln, Sudbury, Concord…
It was absolutely crazy. Tree branches were crashing down, roads blocked, no plows out… I called my boss and said, “I need to come in the driving is dangerous out here”. He acted like I was crazy. I told him we had 8 inches of snow on the ground and it was snowing heavily.
Here is another account:
We lived in Lexington at the time and lost many tree branches. My Dad was at a meeting at my school that evening, a mile and a half away from home, and couldn’t get home for more than a day because all the roads were blocked. He had to stay with friends that night.
Farther west, the Berkshires of Massachusetts picked up 10-20 inches of snow. 500,000 customers were without power across Massachusetts. Extensive power outages also extended westward into eastern New York and down into Connecticut.
In New York, a foot of snow fell in higher elevations west of Albany and 5 inches fell in the Glen Falls area. Parts of the Mohawk Valley saw 2 to 3 inches of snow. A couple of locations in the Finger Lakes region picked up 4 inches of snow. One location in the Catskill Mountains reported a whopping 27 inches of snow.
Crews attempt to restore power in western Massachusetts while snow is falling on May 9, 1977. Credit-WMEC.
The higher elevations of northern Connecticut picked up over a foot of snow. Hartford recorded 1.5 inches.
Photo of snow on the ground at Tolland, Connecticut, on May 9, 1977. Public Domain.
Only a trace of snow fell around New York City but that was the latest snowfall on record. Trace amounts fell over New Jersey and much of Pennsylvania. Thunderstorms in southern Pennsylvania were accompanied by 70 mph winds.
The only good thing about the storm was that temperatures in the lower elevations were above freezing and with the higher sun angle, most of the roads didn’t become snow covered.
Northern New England also saw snow but only light amounts fell.
Snowfall map for the May 9-10, 1977storm. Map Credit-Kocin-Uccellini/Northeast snowstorms.
On May 8th there were two areas of low pressure that were moving eastward. The first one was moving across southern Ontario while the other was moving into southern Pennsylvania. These systems were responsible for chilly temperatures and areas of rain.
Around the East Coast, there was a deep trough of low pressure developing. At the surface, the Pennsylvania low became the one dominant low around coastal New England, with, with a deep upper-level trough aloft. Coler sir flowed down into the Northeast region from Canada. There was also some very cold air aloft that was manufactured by the upper trough.
Map 0Z May 10, 1977, showing a deep upper-level trough on the East Coast. Map Credit-Kocin-Uccellini/ Northeast Snowstorms.
As temperatures fell on May 9th, the rain changed to snow in many locations. Due to the time of year, it was mainly an “elevation” snow event, but parts of southeast New England was proximate to the upper-level trough so significant snow fell at the lower elevations as well.
Surface weather map for May 9, 1977, shows a strong low-pressure system along the East Coast and associated precipitation. Map Credit- NOAA Central Library (Daily Weather Maps).
With leaves on the trees and heavy wet snow falling all you had to do was add significant wind to create havoc with trees falling on power lines all over.
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Two-thirds of New York COVID-19 patients were sheltering in place!
Guest ?set our people free!? by David Middleton
Shelter in place has been an EPIC FAIL?
?Shocking?: 66% of new coronavirus patients in N.Y. stayed home: Cuomo
By DENIS SLATTERY NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | MAY 06, 2020
ALBANY ? The majority of recently hospitalized coronavirus patients in New York are people who have followed the precaution of staying home, Gov. Cuomo said Wednesday.
The governor said it was ?shocking? that 66% of new coronavirus hospitalizations are people who are either retired or unemployed and not commuting to work on a regular basis.
?This is a surprise: Overwhelmingly, the people were at home,? Cuomo said during a briefing on Long Island. ?We thought maybe they were taking public transportation, and we?ve taken special precautions on public transportation, but actually no, because these people were literally at home.?
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