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Will ‘Murder Hornets’ make their way to Tucson?

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TUCSON - An invasion of Asian giant hornets became the latest worry and internet sensation in the United States after the term "murder hornet" trended over the weekend.

But the question is, can the murder hornet cause mayhem here in Southern Arizona?

Although the insect does not generally target people or pets, Wendy Moore, an associate professor of entomology at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture & Life Sciences said the murder hornet can be destructive to other insect populations.

"The big one is the threat to honey bees," said Moore. "They need yet another problem on their hand and this is one that targets honey bees in particular.  The species has longer stingers with more toxic venom that could pose a danger to people if the insects feel threatened."

Katy Prudic of the UArizona School of Natural Resources and the Environment said unlike honeybees, these hornets can sting repeatedly.

"What's interesting about their venom is that it's not the most poisonous venom," said Prudic. "Because of the size of the stinger and glands associated with it, they're just pumping you with venom."

Moore added, "it's like red hot tacks being driven into your leg." 

What are the chances these insects migrate over time to Southern Arizona much like killer bees did from South America?

"I think it's unlikely because we live in such a dry and hot climate, especially during the summertime," said Moore. "We don't really know what these giant hornets are capable of.  I don't think we should wait and find out.  I think we should do everything we can to help them in the Pacific Northwest get rid of these invasive species."

So, now is the time to act while the fluttering frenzy is still creating a buzz.

Paul Cicala

Paul Cicala is a 2-time winner of the prestigious”Edward R. Murrow Award” for his reporting/anchoring in news & sports. Paul Cicala has also been nominated for multiple EMMY’s. Cicala has won the “Best Sportscaster” category in Tucson the last 3 years (voted on by readers of “Tucson Weekly”). Cicala is a native Tucsonan who specialized in border stories during his earlier career as a news reporter in this market, and now concentrates mainly on sports stories (with an occasional special report and/or feature story on life in Tucson & the Sonoran Desert).

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