Last spring Kerry Wood Nature Centre received plenty of panicked calls about possible ‘murder hornet’ sightings.
That’s when word spread that Washington state had two verified reports of Asian giant hornets, the world’s largest hornet, near the Canadian border in December 2019.
Now British Columbia and Washington state are ready with a plan to eradicate the invasive hornets.
Todd Nivens, executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, said the hornets have not shown up in Red Deer, or elsewhere in Alberta, as far as he knows.
“We got probably a dozen phone calls last year from people thinking they’d seen them. In every case they turned out to be either banded horn tails or elm sawflies,” said Nivens who doesn’t expect to see any of the hornets because Alberta winter would likely kill them.
“They’re huge. They’re absolutely undeniable. When someone does find one, there will be no mistaking what it is.”
The hornets, about as big as AA battery, are known for preying on honeybees and decimating hives.
“Nothing does the job so efficiently as Asian giant hornets because they’re immune to honeybee venom. Bees can swarm them and sting them and it just doesn’t do anything to them. They methodically go through the bee hive and clip the heads off honeybees.”
Nivens said on a local level, few things can do damage like Asian giant hornets, but on a global scale the biggest problems for honeybees and climate change and pesticides.
“They will do far more damage over time than an invasive predator.”
But if Red Deerians do have questions about the hornets, they are encouraged to contact the nature centre.
“I rather someone take a picture, or capture something, and call, rather than going out and spraying pesticides around. I’d rather have somebody double check.”
— With files from The Canadian Press