‘Murder Hornets’ not found in Kentucky, but look-alikes cause confusion


The Asian Giant Hornet is commonly referred to as the ‘murder hornet’. Courtesy Jonathan Larson

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – They’re big, they’re scary, and their sting can pack quite the punch. Dubbed the “murder hornet”, Asian Giant Hornets are a beast of an insect.

“They do pose a health risk. It is painful I do understand to be stung by one. It’s supposed to feel like a red hot nail, or something to that effect, going through the skin,” Jonathan Larson, University of Kentucky Extension Entomologist, said. “It’s because of their sheer size that they can deliver a lot of venom.”

In Japan these hornets can kill up to 50 people a year, but they also take a devastating toll on the bee population.

“They do pose a hazard to bees and beekeepers. They do like to eat bees and bee larva, so they will go in and kind of scout the colony and try to take them out and then eat things up,” Larson said.

Thankfully, these hornets have not reached Kentucky yet. They’re thousand of miles away in Washington state. Larson says it would be weird for them to make the jump here any time soon, but similar looking, stingy insects could cause confusion.

“Here in Kentucky we do have some look-alikes that appear very similar in shape and size of this insect,” Larson said. “One is the European hornet. It looks almost identical in size and shape and overall profile, but their head is a little less round and kind of has maroon on the sides of it.”

If you see a large hornet here in Kentucky, it is likely that, a Cicada killer, or the bald faced hornet.

The ‘murder hornet’ is about 1.5-2 inches long.

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