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8 police stung by hornets in park

51 Comments

Eight police officers aged between 20 and 60 were stung by a swarm of Japanese giant hornets in Machida on Sunday morning. All of the victims survived the attack but one of the group was stung over his entire body and was taken to hospital. The attack took place in Oyamada Park.

According to police, the group was in the park searching for an elderly man who reportedly became confused after leaving his home on Sept 22. The man has not been seen since but a family member found his car in the Oyamada car park on Sept 23. A group of 35 people were searching for the man when the hornet attacks occurred.

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Gee...better them than a group of kids. Could have been deadly.

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Glad none of those cops were allergic to insect stings. My dad nearly died when I was a kid after getting stung by three honeybees. (inadvertently cut into a nest with a chain saw when cutting firewood) scary stuff.

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Those Japanese hornets are nasty. I get a few of them around my place. You don't want to get stung by one (or more). If you see one, don't kill it cos it releases hormones to bring on the hordes.

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i lold

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A police sting ?

Moderator: Readers, there is nothing funny about this story. No immature remarks please.

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Sounds like they werent one of those suzumebachi types, lucky. Typically hornets etc here will leave you alone unless you really harass them, back home each fall hornets get quite agressive

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When you kill one of them, others come to take it away. Interesting.

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A hornet can sting multiple times. Hence: Very Dangerous.

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Am I right to assume that they are not the Japanese Giant type hornet since they are just referred to as "hornets?"

Moderator: They were Japanese hornets.

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Japanese hornets are huge scary looking insects. They are like a jet fighter being flown by a hells angel.. i.e you avoid them at all costs.

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Disillusioned:

If you see one, don't kill it cos it releases hormones to bring on the hordes.

Yes, hornets are very dangerous social insects, and they do communicate by releasing "alarm pheromones" (not hormones :-). And, they sometimes falsely interpret an unrelated odor as such a pheromone...

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Japanese giant hornets are quite passive compared to north American hornets. They are still very dangerous though. Some North/South American hornets will sting without provacation, whereas most Japanese hornets will usually only sting in defense, and usually only when close to the nest. So the best thing to do when a hornet flies close to you is freeze, and leave the scene very carefully. Japanese hornets have worse stings than North American hornets though, and as some of you have said already, they will release pheromones that put their fellow buddies into attack mode. Hornets have some natural enemies, bears, honey buzzards etc, which raid the nests to eat the larvae, and so the hornets attack out of defence. So in most accidents, people stumble into a nest and are attacked without even knowing that they had upset a nest. Japanese hornets travel large distances from the nest in search of food, so if somebody is stung more than a few hundred metres away from the nest, the chance of more than a few hornets reacting to the pheromones before the person escapes is very slim.

Autumn is the worst season, as the colonies are at their largest at this time of year, and the undergrowth is thicker making it harder to see nests. In early spring, the queen bees are so preoccupied with finding adequate nesting spots that they will hardly ever sting, I've seen a guy catch flying giant hornets with a net in spring and take measurements of them and then release them, they were as placid as honey bees.

Allergy or no allergy, these poor officers will be suffering. I've never been stung by a Japanese giant hornet, and I never want to be. Fascinating insects though.

 

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i researched at wikipedia that japanese hornets can be eaten deep fried or raw (sashimi) and good source of protein.... euck!

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Am I right to assume that they are not the Japanese Giant type hornet since they are just referred to as "hornets?"

Moderator: They were Japanese hornets.

That doesn't really answer n3312's question. They are clearly Japanese hornets because it happened in Japan. It is doubtful that they were Giant Asian (Japanese) Hornets because that officer who was stung all over would be dead for sure.

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These suzumebachi are well known as an aggressive species, check out Youtube and Wikipedia for some skin-crawling images. However, according to most information sources, they are found in rural areas. I doubt that the park in Tokyo could have been that big to be considered rural.. so, did a hornet queen wander in from the inaka or are they migrating into urban environments?? Scary!

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Northlondon:

Japanese news says that after examining the officers stings, they were able to confirm that it was Oosuzumebachi, which are Japanese Giant Hornets. If it makes the news, then you can almost guaranty that the culprits are Giant hornets. The other suzumebachi (basically hornet in English), kiirosuzume, ashinaga, kogatasuzume etc, are no where near as dangerous.

Jason6,

There are plenty of giant hornets in the city, of course more in rural areas though. Biologists have already predicted that this year could be bad for hornet accidents because the hot summer has meant there is more food this year than normal. They eat mainly insects of course, and police officers!

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Have seen numerous giant hornets in central Tokyo. (Kitanomaru park, Sotobori Park etc.) The big orange ones that are the size of a tarantula hawk. You can hear them flying from about 15 meters away. They certainly are here.

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Yeh, you have to watch out for the suzumebachi; I have a nest in one of my walls two years ago, and had around 300 of these THINGS, and despite two nets that covered my toilet fan, where they had nested inside the wall, and having sprayed the HECK out of the vent, one got through. This is after being stung four times in my neck previously. It was like having a blow torch on you. Really. Anyhow, this one bug half dead got through the netting, crawled through the hallway, and up to the kitchen and stung me on my foot, late at night. It was like a gun shot to my foot! I have never felt so much pain, aside from my four stings on my neck previously. I thought, with ice water, and with baking soda, the pain would go away after two hours, but six hours later, I gave up and some how managed to go to sleep. Next day, off to the clinic. I finally, got a specialist to get rid of them. One of those things I learned about NOT doing it yourself. This year, has been chiggers!!! No end to the scratching and pain. I HATE summer!!!

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Looks like mother nature is taking care of business.

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TheRat: Sounds like we both have our hands full with bugs. In the garden, I have three types of yellowjacket/wasp/hornets, the usual honeybees, and bumblebees.

But Mr. Rat sir, you have my sympathy for having them coming after you like that. I know the gunshot feeling. Good analogy, but did you feel a little tazering in there too? What did the specialist do?

I just leave them alone. The bumblebees follow me around in the garden, hovering, and play kind of a zone defense with their territories. I know where their nests are and only go near them at dusk.

The very long suzumebachi, maybe 6 cm or more, are truly frightening and my first impulse is always to kill them, but I never seem to have a long enough stick, haha. They always just leave, so no problem. They are huge and magnificent. I don't know how long they live, but I have a sense that this same guy has come back for about five years now. Always kind of alone. I feel sorry for him. I have only been stung by the usual variety of wasp of about 3 cm. Right at about the jugular. I approached their nest unaware and they swarmed. I screamed like a little girl and ran away flailing my arms.

I came back the next day with a smoky tin can and got rid of their nest. Actually, it is hung over my desk as I type this. The wasps make a simple nest and then make an umbrella over it. Dedicated mothers all, trying to keep their little monsters warm and dry.

I hear that taking out small hornet nests is about 30,000 yen a pop in most parts of Japan. Easy money as far as I am concerned. If you know they are there and prepare yourself, they haven't got a chance. If you just watch them, you know exactly where their nests are. The police just got ambushed. Too bad. I am amazed that eight went down before they figured out what was going on. I don't really feel too sorry for them. Cleo will tell you why.

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"These suzumebachi are well known as an aggressive species, check out Youtube and Wikipedia for some skin-crawling images."

Certainly not my experience, but they are carnivores. You can be afraid, or not, as with most animals.

"cut into a nest with a chain saw when cutting firewood)"

Now there is danger for you. A nightmare scenario. What would you do? Drop the saw and risk chopping off your leg, or let three bees stick you with their pokers? Or wave the chain saw around and hope you slice up enough of them? I would say he was lucky he just got stung.

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Klein2,

Don't know if you are really interested or not, but hey, you asked so here is the answer, the more you know about them the more fascinating they are.

How long do the hornets live?

About 1 year. Each nest has a queen in it which has been busy laying eggs all summer. Most of these eggs are males, which help her to run the nest, and tend to the little hornets that are being born, and also to build the nest, which gets bigger throughout the summer. About this time of year, as the queen senses the temperature change, she starts giving birth to young queen bees. About the same time, some of the males in the nest sense a change as well and hormones trigger them to leave the nest and go and find a queen for themselves to marry. They fly around until they find another nest, which the land on the outside of and wait.

The young queen hornets are reared inside the nest by the workers, they emerge late Autumn, and as they emerge the waiting males mate with them and they fly off over the horizon and hibernate for the winter, usually in a rotten log or in the ground. Winter comes and the wasps inside the nest die as they run out of food and the cold gets them, including the queen.

Come Spring, the thermometer rises and the young emerge from hibernation and scout out a place to start a nest of their own. Over the Winter they have had the male's sperm kept safely inside them, and in the spring they use it to impregnate themselves.

They find a god spot, build a nest, which starts out really small, and lay the first of the eggs, I forget how many, probably about 10. Over the first few months of Spring, the young queen will raise the young hornets by herself, and will then mate with them and give birth to more hornets. As the number of hornets increases, they are able to help her raise the young and to build the nest bigger. About this time of year, the number of hornets really starts to skyrocket, as the hornets can raise as many eggs as the queen can lay.

And the cycle repeats and repeats.

There are exceptions to this of course, but basically that's their life cycle. The one hornet that visist you is probably not the same one. Hornets are incredible insects.

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Apparently, it takes only 100 bee stings to kill and average human male. As for these hornets - do they produce honey? Excuse the ignorance, but I know nothing about them...

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Good info, everyone. Thanks.

I was just camping in Kuromatsunai and the campsite warned us against going into the brush, as it's hornet season.

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The workers are males? Not asexual females, like other social insects?

Honey is made from the nectar bees collect from flowering plants. Hornets eat some leaves and tree sap, but as far as I know they don't collect nectar or pollen, so no hornet honey, I'm afraid. They do eat honeybees, as well as flies and other insects. (I think someone else mentioned that they're carnivorous.)

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I have a half dozen hornet/wasp nests in my yard each year, usually the smaller umbrella type hanging in trees or my roof, the nests are small & I just leave them be, I had a nest of tiny black & white hornets(amybe a 1cm long) that nested in the ground near my compost that I always made a point of giving them space & kept my dog away from there although one of my cats checked out the nest, but only once, think she got stung a few times.

I read somewhere that the poison of suzumebachi stay in your body long after the sting & if you ever get nailed again you get a double whammy which can kill you. After reading this blurb I wud guess these were NOT suzumebachi because if one officer was repeatedly stung he wud need a miracle to survive. Suzumebachi are impressive beasts, I see them all the time, once I sat & watched one take down kill & fly off with a preying mantis in the fall so the mantis although a male was a good size.

My fav wasps are the ones that hunt spiders, they have a red dot & hunt on/near the ground & catch spiders much bigger than they are haul them away & lay an egg inside & the larvae eats the spider & cycle repeats, way cool!

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Thanks Cleo, interesting stuff!

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So the old man who went off and caused all this still hasn't been found?

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Learned some great stuff from some posters here. I live in a very rural area and noticed them setting up camp near my driveway. Guess I'll make the local homemade trap with the pet bottle.

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"How long do the hornets live?

About 1 year. Each"

Bizarre. I would swear I see the same guy with the same crooked grin every year. That is a lot of meat on those things, it seems so unlikely that they can get that big that fast early in the summer. Thanks for sharing. So what do they eat mostly? Carrion?

I actually kind of like them. They scare the carp out of me, but in a roller coaster kind of way. My garden is full of poisonous animals and plants anyway. I even have several poisonous plants that are edible. So the bees don't bother me. Monkeys do.

Haha. I figured GW would have hornet stories too. TheRat, GW and I are the gardeners, so it would figure that we are out there on the front lines with these things. There is a constant war being waged all around us, people. Dragonflies, wasps, mantids and others just sweep through the greenery all day. And thank God for that. In my garden, the spiders are pretty well the apex as far as the smaller predators go. I don't have GW's spider killers, as far as I know.

This year I was always watching out for bumblebees in the pumpkin and squash blossoms.

It is awesome to watch a mantid just munch through a grasshopper like it was a baguette, though.

GW, you probably know what a soldierfly is. They live in compost by the hundreds. If I were a carnivorous hornet, I would love to be camped out near a compost pile.

The double whammy you are talking about might actually be the allergic reaction that often develops after the first sting. It is complicated, but a body basically overreacts to the second sting "event." That allergic reaction is much much more deadly than the venom. So this guy who was stung many times might be ok whether he is stung once or 11 times in succession, but if the waits a week and does it again, he might need an ambulance.

Last thing... GW, do you grow brassicas? If so, then you probably know that Japan has many species of predatory wasps that go after cabbage worms. That is why picking off caterpillars is usually enough to control them, and why pesticides never do any good.

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The only true masters of hunting Giant Asian Hornets in Japan are local beekeepers from Miyazaki. Miyazaki is Giant Asian Hornet country in Japan. It only takes around 30 of these Giant Hornets to destroy a complete beehive with thousands of bees (Giant Asian Hornets are over 3 times the size of a honeybee), therefore the local beekeepers need to be proactive and go on the hunt for them.

These huge killer hornets can take apart a whole beehives nest of larvae and feed them to their own over-aggressively hungry larvae (as well as the remains of the bees that have been slaughtered). So what the Hornet hunters in Miyazaki do is to stake out known Giant Hornet countryside. When they find one, usually a lone scout hunter, they net it and tie a long paper streamer to it's abdomen. Amazingly the locals can then track the flight of the Hornet and sometimes find the ground nest that it belongs to.

The rest of fairly simple. A long fishing-net type trap is readied over the entrance to the nest and the local hunters smoke the Hornets out. Once they realise that their nest is under attack the attack theromones are released and the whole nest will come out, straight into the waiting trap.

The Miyazaki Hornet hunters will then traditionally celebrate that evening by frying and eating some of the Giant Hornets.

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Guess I'll make the local homemade trap with the pet bottle.

Not a good idea. I wouldn't take Giant Asian Hornet advice from posters on Japan Today (i.e the previous poster offering his services after catching a few tiny wasps). The police officer who was stung all over should be dead and is very lucky if he isn't. I would keep well away from them and call your local ward office to get rid of them.

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(I think someone else mentioned that they're carnivorous.)

Japanese Giant Hornet workers/ hunters are driven by the incessant scratching of it's nest larvae and their ravenous appetite. The larvae are fed the meat of honeybees, as well as the beehive larvae.

A number of people each year in Japan die after Japanese Giant Hornet stings. Not caused by the venom, but by anaphylactic shock from the acute pain of the sting.

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its very important to mention the police men ages (...)

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Cleo,

Yes, you would be right there, the Hornets are social insects, so the workers would all be sterile females. So she would keep enough sperm stored up form the autumn mating to impregnate herself throughout the summer.

Klein, the hornet you see in the Spring is probably a queen. If it's big, then it's a queen.

NorthLondon,

The only true masters of hunting Giant Asian Hornets in Japan are local beekeepers from Miyazaki.

Give some credit to the local Hachikuma, which are summer birds to Japan, so probably flying over Miyazaki in the hundreds about now!

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Not to get too technical but anaphylactic shock IS caused by an allergic reaction to venom. Some people die from a single sting, not because of the pain but due to anaphylactic shock.

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You can borrow a suit from your local fire department when you want to take out your suzumebachi nest, although the one I borrowed had quite a few tears in it, which I had to duct tape over. Wait until dark and take them out. If you have kids, get rid of the nests! It could be sayonara to your kids otherwise.

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"Japan Today (i.e the previous poster offering his services after catching a few tiny wasps)."

Nobody offered his services. Get a grip. I would do it for 30,000 or less, is what I said, and any properly equipped and reasonable person could do it. I would do it for Paris Hilton for free if she baked me some cookies and showed me her kitchen. In fact, a typical nest of 10 or so would be a cakewalk. You are being hysterical. They aren't monsters. They are animals that act quite predictably and passively in most situations. That is why 30k is easy money as far as I am concerned, but horrified housewives will pay anything just to be rid of them.

Don't use pesticides, people. Use your head.

"If you have kids, get rid of the nests! It could be sayonara to your kids otherwise."

More hysteria. How about teaching kids about animals rather than just destroying them? It works for me. I find kids in Japan are much more afraid of hairy caterpillars and moths than they are of helicopter sized hornets. Watching the Discovery channel is not real life, and most kids know that, unless they watch too much TV.

"anaphylactic shock from the acute pain of the sting"

You seem pretty sure about that. Are you sure you have that right? Anaphylaxis is a pain reaction, not an allergic reaction? I think I am going to trust this instead. It describes a scenario or allergenic anaphylaxis:

"After an initial exposure "sensitizing dose" to a substance like bee sting toxin, the person's immune system becomes sensitized to that allergen. On a subsequent exposure "shocking dose", an allergic reaction occurs. This reaction is sudden, severe, and involves the whole body."

bcbrownboy, I think you have some good advice there, but I would not do the job at night. Their vision is bad, but yours would be worse, and all they have to do is fly toward the light and bite whatever is warm and soft. And really, what OTHER direction are they going to fly to? Dawn is a period of high arousal and during the day, many will be leaving and returning. Dusk works for me because they are settling down and a little tired. You also want the neighbors to be able to see what is going on and not be alarmed by the smoke.

I also would not borrow a suit because rapid and natural movement might be important. You gotta pack your own kit, as they say.

I guess if you really wanted to be "safe", then a ski jacket, gloves, thick trousers and rubber boots, or ski boots haha with a full face helmet would do you. Or a wetsuit. If you were dressed like that, you would not need smoke or anything. You could just wade in smoosh em all with your bare hands.

Smoke and light clothing works for me. I think I wore a baseball cap and a long sleeved shirt for protection. I had a tin can with smoldering wood and leaves, a stick for holding and poking, and a bucket with a top on it. I didn't talk about it, I just did it. Thank you Prometheus.

Anyway, the police should have backed right the heck out of there and gotten some proper clothing. They should have used some cheap night vision to check the bee area at night for Mr. Homeless. They should have called a reasonable person (i.e. a farmer) to do the hornets the next day.

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an elderly man who reportedly became confused after leaving his home on Sept 22. The man has not been seen since but a family member found his car in the Oyamada car park on Sept 23.

If this old dude became confused after he left his home:

a. How would anyone else know it ? b. Why is he still driving? c. Was he heavily insured?

Hornets I remember as a kid carry a grudge. Something must have been recently disrupted for them to come out in force... 'Hope the officers recover fully from this sting operation.

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Hornets have a role in the local ecosystem, however it can be dangerous next to dense human settlements. Every year, 30 people die in Japan after being stung by hornets. I don't really like being next to them, however I respect them as long as they don't try to nest on the walls of my house. We previously lived in a house (traditional) and when we moved in, there were a group of hornets living in the house (thanks to a small hole in the fake roof). It was very scary with a baby in the house.

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Maybe it is time for the police in Japan to fight back against the hornets and put some traps out there to catch these stinging predators.

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GW, you probably know what a soldierfly is. They live in compost by the hundreds. If I were a carnivorous hornet, I would love to be camped out near a compost pile.

Actually dont spend much time learning about flies but did a quick seach & you are correct my compost if FULL of soldier fly larvae & I have seen the adults & have to admit I thought they were small wasps, will look closer next time as they often want in when I open the top to my compost LOL, see you can teach an old dog ruff ruff!

Last thing... GW, do you grow brassicas? If so, then you probably know that Japan has many species of predatory wasps that go after cabbage worms. That is why picking off caterpillars is usually enough to control them, and why pesticides never do any good.

Dont grow mustard but a bit of cabbage & brocolli, send the wife to squish the aomushi as I tend to just flick them off, give`em a chance to lead better lives & she always tell me I have to squish them LOL!

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GW. Soldierflies are actually pretty cool. They have huge larvae for their size and they do not light on food or on humans. I let them chomp away in my compost. They like it. They eat "filth" and give me what I want: fly poo. In a really moist pile they will actually churn the compost for you as they burrow, making a concert of hundreds of little sucking mouths.

Because they attract predators like wasps, spiders, frogs, and lizards, and because they do not eat my food, I welcome them.

Haha. Yeah, you have to squish the cabbage worms, OR feed them to pet lizards and birds, as I do. They eat broccoli all day, so they are very nutritious for pets. They do attract the wasps though. They fly up next to a caterpillar and inject eggs into them. That is why if you ever see an absolutely motionless caterpillar on your cabbage, leave it alone, because it is a wasp zombie carrying larvae.

And it all comes back to wasps and hornets. The more you encourage life, the more it abides. If you go killing things, then something gets messed up. My garden is crowded with animals, and none ever seems to get the upper hand. The hornets probably avoid it because of the activity. There is a lot of food, but too many other things that they would have to worry about. A dark corner of a park is the place for them, apparently.

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I come from a country with more poisonous snakes,spiders maneating crocs and sharks than anywhere in the world but the Giant Asian Hornet scares the buggery out of me..so much so that I avoid mountains in Autumn completely.

They can fly faster than humans can run. They attack dark colours especially so will go for the pupils of your eyes.(Better off wearing white) They inject their prey with a marker pheromone so that the hive can join in the attack. If you try to kill or injure one it emits an SOS signal that will bring all the hive after you. If you squash one then the pheromones will stick to your shoe etc and still alert the hive.

jeez.Give me a croc anyday.

The Japanese honeybee is pretty smart..when the first hornet scouts enter a hive they make a huge ball with their bodies around the hornet scout and basically roast it to death.

I once saw one that looked to be about 7cm long about 10 metres away.He had a massive praying mantis in his jaws and just bit the head off and left the body and stayed there hovering in front of me...chilling stuff.

they feed the heads of insects to their young apparently.

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Klein2,

That me reminds me of a few years back. My wife had some swallowtail caterpillars (Ageha) that she was keeping so that she could watch them change into butterflies. They crawled around the living room in their last hours as caterpillars, before changing into chrysalises on the pot plants. I was getting sick of the smell of sansho, that's what they eat, but she had the days all worked out and all was going to plan. The night before they were due to come out, she was quite excited about the prospect of waking up the next morning to swallowtail butterflies in the living room.

Next morning, I heard a scream, went to the living room and presto, wasps everywhere! Little buggers, parasite wasps, had obviously laid eggs in the caterpillars and then devoured them after they became chrysalis. There were hundreds of them!

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Too many old geezers in Japan, and because of this old lost geezer, 8 poor Japanese policemen get stung by angry hornets, and thanks to these cops, now we all know to stay the heck away from this dangerous park in Machida, Tokyo.

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northlondon

I once saw on tv how they tie ribbons on the suzumebachi & then watch the bugger with binocs until they track him to his nest!

Also saw shows on tv where they were getting nests out of houses, the guy wears a protective suit & uses a vacuum to suck the hornets then once he has them all, remove the nests, they showed some where several walls were full of hornets, creepy!

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klein2

we had better stop talking about maggots or we will get banned here LOL!

Moderator: Exactly. Back on topic please.

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I really hope all the officers involved in this painful encounter with hornets recover 100% and don't develop a phobia of insects in general.

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they feed the heads of insects to their young apparently.

They select the muscle parts of the insects they kill to feed to the Giant Japanese Hornet larvae in the nest. Hence the breeding of natural born killers with very few predators. These larvae are not fed just any old insect part. They are raised on muscle parts and honeybee larvae. Mad.

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