Originally posted Sept 27, 2013 See update.
Fear of bees, look away. I’m not joking.
Medical experts called for public awareness of the danger of wasps after stings claimed 19 lives within three months in Ankang, Shaanxi province.
Guo Dongyang, a doctor in the nephrology department of the General Hospital of Chengdu Military Region of the PLA, said on Thursday the death rate for people stung by wasps is relatively high in China as many are in remote rural areas and cannot receive timely treatment.
“People being severely stung by wasps may suffer renal failure, liver failure and cardiac injury and may die within one or two hours without timely treatment,” he said.
The wasps are giant. I’m NOT kidding. Their venom is toxic. Global warming may be contributing to the banner year in giant wasps. I can’t even imagine getting stung by this thing. Horrific. The locals do not know how to recognize the danger or react to it. Education as well as eradication may help.
10 stings require medical attention. 30 need emergency treatment.
The hornet attacks are a recurring problem in the area from May to as late as November. According to Ankang police, 36 people died in the city and 715 were injured by the creatures between 2002 and 2005. But Zhou said the issue had been particularly severe this year, possibly because of weather changes.
Experts have suggested in the past that warmer temperatures in the area have led to hornets breeding more successfully, that labourers have been moving deeper into areas where they may disturb nests, and that the insects are sensitive to chemicals found in food and cosmetics.
This article appeared on 4-Oct in the Guardian.
One possible reason for the recent wave of attacks in China may be increased encounters with hornet nests, since multiple attacks usually occur when the insects defend their nests.
More than 99% of queens normally die over winter and spring, so small variations in this mortality rate can lead to massive differences in the numbers of nests each year. So given the opportunity, a hornet population has a massive potential to expand rapidly, which has happened recently with the accidental introduction of the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) to France and Korea.
A prolonged warm season will provide more food and less death leading to expansion of the colonies. Thus, global climate change can be boosting the population of the nasty predators.
Addition: There is an urban legend going round that says these beasties were caused by Japanese radiation leaks and are in Nebraska. FALSE!