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‘They Say It Makes Them Potent’: Asian ‘Murder Hornets’ Are A Delicacy In Japan
The Asian wasp is a species of wasp of the Vespid family native to Southeast Asia. This wasp, like others of its kind, feeds on insects, but also on bees, although this species is more aggressive than others.
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Asian giant hornets, also known as “murder hornets,” are a traditional delicacy in Japan where people enjoy them fried, steamed, or added to liquor.

The Asian giant hornet is the largest hornet in the world. They are equipped with pincers and venomous stinger. Just one hornet can kill an animal such as a mouse, and the bugs kill dozens of people in Japan every year.

Giant hornets recently turned up in Washington state where scientists are rushing to eradicate them before they begin wiping out bee populations and causing other ecological problems. The hornets can wipe out an entire colony of bees within hours, according to entomologists.

“They’re like something out of a monster cartoon with this huge yellow-orange face,” said Susan Cobey, a bee keeper at Washington State University’s Department of Entomology. The hornets can fly up to 20 miles per hour.

In Japan, the giant hornets are served at restaurants as a delicacy and appear on the menus of dozens of establishments in Tokyo. Cooks prepare the insect, historically viewed as a source of cheap protein, a variety of ways such as roasting the adult bugs until the carapace is “light and crunchy,” according to The New York Times.

Hornet grubs are gathered and then preserved in jars or fried in a pan. They can also be steamed and added to a bed of rice. Some distillers take the adults alive and drown them in a type of rice alcohol known as shochu. The bugs release poison as they drown, which turns the drink a dark amber shade over time.

Torao Suzuki, 75, was a professional exterminator and routinely cleared out about 40 to 50 nests a year, gathering the hornets and sometimes selling their nests, displayed for their intricate tunnels. Suzuki does not eat the giant hornets.

“Even when I tell people, they’re going to sting you, they still eat them. They say it makes them potent,” Suzuki told the Times.

Exterminators like Suzuki and hornet hunters track the insects by tying a piece of fish to a streamer, letting one hornet fly off with the meat, and tailing the bug back to its nest. The hunters then use smoke to pacify the hornets before digging up the nest.

The giant hornets, along with other edible insects, are celebrated in an annual festival held in the Gifu Prefecture in the southern part of the main island of Japan. People are warned ahead of time at the festival, known as the Kushihara Hebo Matsuri, that the organizers are not responsible for accidents with the insects.

United States officials first found the Asian “murder hornet” in December near the Canadian border. Since then, agriculture officials have been rushing to stamp out their existence in North America before they grow too numerous to handle. The insects are an existential threat to United States honeybee populations. The hornets prey on the small insects by decapitating them and feeding their thoraxes to the hornets’ larvae.

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