Common name: Northern giant hornet, murder hornet
Scientific name: Vespa mandarinia
Status in Hawaii: Not known to be present in Hawaii
The world’s largest hornet can exceed 2 inches in length. These large, striped hornets have a painful sting, but pose a greater threat to honeybee colonies and native insects.
- Pest of honey bees and other pollinators. Predation can cause complete loss of bee colonies.
- According to HDOA Plant Industry Division:
- Honey production in Hawaii: $4.1 million/yr.
- HI Queen bee production: $10million/yr.
- HI Agriculture pollination value:
- $212 million/yr.
- 1 in 3 bites of food relies on honey bee pollination.
- Painful stings causing welts/blistering. Stings may also cause severe reactions, especially in people with bee allergies. Have been known to cause deaths in Japan and China.
- Predates on bees and insects and poses a threat to Hawaii’s threatened and endangered species.
- Large hornets. Workers are 1in-1.5in (2.5-3.8 cm) long, and queens can exceed 1.75 in (4.5cm) in length.
- Worker body size increases through the season as the nest grows larger.
- Overall black and yellow, striped appearance. The head is distinguishingly large and entirely yellow or orange with dark eyes; the thorax is mostly dark brown or black, and the abdomen usually has alternating bands of dark brown or black and yellow or orange.
- Coloration can vary geographically through its native range.
- Nests are formed in the ground in pre-existing cavities, as well as tree and/or tree root cavities.
- Vespa mandarinia populations can only be established by inseminated queens or a virgin queen and one male. Unlikely that queens would be associated with live honeybee commodities as queens are not associated with hive attacks.
- Soil, rotting logs, straw: queens overwinter alone in these materials in which they create hibernating chambers.
- Sap producing trees. Adults are known to forage on fermented sap.
- Smuggling: V. mandarinia larvae and pupae are consumed as a seasonal delicacy and used as a traditional medicine.
- Native range: Asia. They have records in China, India, Bhutan, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Taiwan, and Thailand. In China, distribution is mainly in the southern portions of the county.
- Introduced range: North America
Best Management Practices
- This species is NOT KNOWN TO OCCUR in Hawaii. Prevention and early detection efforts protect Hawaii’s nursery industry and environment.
- Consider sourcing options and pest distribution when purchasing plants.
- BOLO: Be on the lookout! Carefully inspect all material coming from areas where northern giant hornets are established.
- Report any suspect pests to 643pest.org or by phone 643-PEST (7378). If possible, collect suspect hornets and store in 70% ethanol to preserve them for morphological verification and potentially for genetic testing or in the freezer.
Other Nursery Pests
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This material was made possible, in part, by a Cooperative Agreement from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). It may not necessarily express APHIS’ views.