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Here’s What It Feels Like To Be Stung By Asia’s ‘Murder Hornet’
Japanese giant hornet
Shin.T/Getty Images

As if we we don’t have enough problems.

With a pandemic sweeping across the U.S., now we’ve got to deal with giant hornets?

In case you haven’t heard, Asian giant hornets, or, more scientifically, Vespa mandarinia — but also known as “murder hornets” — have arrived in America.

“It’s a shockingly large hornet,” Todd Murray, a specialist in invasive species at Washington State University (WSU), told CBS News, which added “while generally not aggressive towards people or pets, the hornets can attack if provoked, officials say, and have killed humans in extreme circumstances.”

The two-inch-long hornets started showing up in Washington state in December, and there are fears that the insects will spread across the country.

“They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” said Susan Cobey, a bee breeder at WSU’s Department of Entomology.

An extreme-nature-show host actually stung himself with one on camera for his YouTube channel. “I’m about to enter the sting zone with the giant Japanese hornet,” Nathaniel “Coyote” Peterson said in an episode of “Brave Wilderness” in November 2018.

In the video, Peterson says he took days seeking “Japan’s most notorious insect” in the vast forests of the country. Then, he found one.

“Look at that, it’s huge!” says Peterson, who also hosts Animal Planet’s “Coyote Peterson: Brave the Wild.”

He captured the hornet and put it in a jar. “Oh, my goodness, look how big it is! My hand is shaking,” Peterson says. “It’s huge, wow! I guess that’s why they call it the giant hornet. I would say that ‘giant’ is an understatement.

“Look at that beast. … Everything about this creature screams, ‘Run in the other direction.’”

Holding the frightening bug with a pair of tongs, Peterson lowers the hornet to his arm and — bam! — he’s stung.

“Aggghhhhh! Oh, the stingers’ stuck in my arm,” he says as he drops the hornet and jumps to his feet.

“Oh man, wave of dizziness really quick,”” he says. Then, clutching his arm, he says: “Ohhhh! Searing pain! Absolute searing pain!”

He then holds his arm sideways to the camera to show off a huge welt — in less than two minutes. “Can’t touch near it! Sharp, shooting pain if I touch near it.”

While writhing in pain, Peterson notes that the hornet injects a toxin that can destroy the human tissue and even attack the nervous system (he adds that more than 30 people a year die in Japan from multiple stings by the hornets).

“If you were to be swarmed by 30 or 40 bees and be stung repetitively, yes, there is a good chance you will die. Now I’ve also heard that the venom is going to cook a hole in my arm. Not exactly looking forward to that. But it all depends on how my body reacts to the venom,” he said.

Justin Schmidt, a University of Arizona entomologist, once set up a “Pain Scale for Stinging Insects,” with pain levels from 1 to 4 (which Schmidt describing the highest level as “pure, intense, brilliant pain… like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel”).

While it’s unclear exactly where the Japanese giant hornet falls on the scale, Peterson says as he rolls on the ground: “Not a 2! Far surpasses the tarantula hawk” wasp, which the scale puts at a four (and it’s another sting Peterson has tested).

Watch the video below (to skip to the stinging part, go to 11:00):


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