The asian giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia (1852)
Phylum : Arthropoda
Class : Insecta
Order : Hymenoptera
Family : Vespidae
Genus : Vespa
Species : V. mandarinia
- Least concern
- 76 mm long (size)
- China, Taiwan, Japan, Nepal, India, Korea and Indochina (map)
The head of the hornet is orange and quite wide in comparison to other hornet species. The compound eyes and ocelli are dark brown, and the antennae are dark brown with orange scapes. The clypeus (the shield-like plate on the front of the head) is orange and coarsely punctured; the posterior side of the clypeus has narrow, rounded lobes. The mandible is large and orange with a black tooth (inner biting surface) that is used for burrowing.
The thorax and propodeum (the abdominal segment that is fused with the posterior segment of the thorax) of the Asian giant hornet has a distinctive golden tint and a large scutellum (a shield-like scale on the thorax) that has a deeply impressed medial line; the postscutellum (the plate behind the scutellum) bulges and overhangs the propodeum. The hornet’s forelegs are orange with dark brown tarsi (the distal—furthest down—part of the leg); the midlegs and hindlegs are dark brown. Wings are a dark brownish-gray. The tegulae are brown.
The gaster (the portion of the abdomen behind the thorax–abdomen connection) is dark brown with a white, powdery covering; with narrow yellow bands at the posterior margins of the tergite, the sixth segment is entirely yellow. It is similar in appearance to the established European hornet, Vespa crabro.
The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is about 6 mm (¼ in) in length, and injects an especially potent venom that contains, like many bee and wasp venoms, a cytolytic peptide (specifically, a mastoparan) that can damage tissue by stimulating phospholipase action, in addition to its own intrinsic phospholipase. Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University near Tokyo, described the sensation as feeling “like a hot nail being driven into my leg”.
An allergic human stung by the giant hornet may die from an allergic reaction to the venom.
The venom contains a neurotoxin called mandaratoxin (MDTX), a single-chain polypeptide with a molecular weight of approximately 20,000 u, which can be lethal even to people who are not allergic if the dose is sufficient.
Each year in Japan, the human death toll caused by Asian giant hornet stings is around 30 to 40.
Advice in China is that people stung more than 10 times need medical help, and emergency treatment for more than 30 stings. The stings can cause renal failure.
Since July 2013, some 41 people are reportedly being killed by the hornet in northern part of China. 216 people are being treated in hospitals in which 37 are in critical condition.