‘Get that thing away from me!’: Couple discovers giant hornet buzzing in North Vancouver
Metro Vancouver appears to be turning into a destination for exotic — and potentially deadly — insects.
Just over a week after the discovery of a southern scorpion in one woman’s apartment, a North Vancouver couple now has what they believe is a Japanese giant hornet living in their home.
Valerie Walsh first alerted Global News to the discovery Friday, posting pictures of the four-centimetre-long insect that remains trapped under a wine glass on her counter.
WATCH: A Japanese giant hornet has been spotted in Metro Vancouver, and in some cases, it can be lethal to humans.
“My boyfriend found it at his work on the waterfront, and he brought it home,” she said Saturday. “I said: ‘Get that thing away from me; I don’t want that in my house!'”
Walsh said it’s possible the intruder came to B.C. on a container ship and has been told by entomologists at the University of British Columbia that “it doesn’t belong here.”
Beyond its massive size, Walsh said she found out through her research just how deadly the wasp can be.
“We found out that if you get stung 10 times, you should go to the hospital, and 30 stings will kill you,” she said.
Those numbers are a common refrain in Asia, where medical authorities urge people to seek medical attention immediately after being stung — even if they’re not allergic.
Tests have yet to determine what type of insect Walsh found.
After viewing a video of the insect, Cameron Lait with Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s School of Horticulture says it is not a Japanese giant hornet.
“The first and second abdominal segment colouration is unique for the wasp in the video and more like a paper wasp than any of the giant hornets from Asia,” he told Global News.
WATCH (May 9): Vancouver woman finds scorpion in her kitchen
In an email, Dr. Adrian Walton with Dewdney Animal Hospital in Maple Ridge said the risk is low compared to those who have an allergy to hornets or wasp venom.
Vancouver, like much of North America, is typically home to the common yellow jacket wasp, which grows to an average of 12 millimetres long.
The Japanese giant hornet, by contrast, can be detected through its orange-and-brown colouring compared to the brighter colouring of yellow jackets.
A honeybee’s worst nightmare
While humans can likely survive an attack from a Japanese giant hornet, Walsh said she found out that another species is at much greater risk.
“We discovered that it can kill 1,000 bees in just three hours,” she said. “It just goes in, decimates the hives and takes the honey.”
The hornet’s appetite for honeybees — which provide them with protein — has made it a nuisance in Japan and other parts of Asia, where local bee populations have occasionally been decimated.
But Dr. Ron Lin from Dr. Bee Honeyland in Pitt Meadows says bees have found a unique way of fighting back against their attackers.
“They’ll surround the hornet, hundreds of them, and form a tight ball and vibrate, which generates heat like an oven,” he said. “The heat will bake the hornet alive and kill it.”
Lin said bees in North America don’t exhibit that same behaviour, making the introduction of Japanese giant hornets in the region dangerous for their survival.
“The one hope is that the winter could kill them because they can’t survive that cold,” he said.
As scientists pore over the dangerous insect, Walsh only has one thought circling her mind: “I just want it gone!”
— With files from Linda Aylesworth
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