Moffitt Restorative Dentistry

Murder Hornets Captured with Dental Floss

Dec 03 2020

Murder Hornets and Dental Floss

First off, we need to talk about murder hornets. They’re gigantic wasps with a three-inch wingspan and a stinger. They can also fire venom from their stingers without actually stinging.

The really awful thing about the murder hornet is that the stingers aren’t even their primary murder weapon. It’s what they use against people, but the murder hornets’ preferred target is other insects, against whom they use their jaws. They have a particular fondness for other wasps, which is of course fine, but they are also more than happy to munch straight through honeybee colonies.

Bee stings bounce straight off the murder hornets’ thick exoskeleton. And the hornets can retaliate with a bite capable of instantly killing a bee. A few hornets can depopulate an entire colony of honeybees by decapitating them one-by-one in their jaws. Bees native to the murder hornets’ range have evolved an interesting defense strategy involving forming giant buzzballs and overheating the invaders, which is the only reason they’ve managed to stick around while the hornets are on the loose.

Destroying a nest of a couple hundred hornets, despite their size and weaponry, is not that difficult for the professionals. Finding it in the woods of northern Washington? Much more difficult. Basically, what they had to do was to capture hornets on solo scouting trips and then get them to lead the exterminators back to their nests via a tracking device.

How does one attach a tracking device to a hornet? A scout hornet is lured into a trap, incapacitated with some sort of insect sedative and tied up with dental floss.

It took some time to come up with this plan. They tried glue, which stuck the hornets’ wings together. They tried tape, which didn’t work at all. Dental floss was the obvious winner for getting the transmitter onto the hornet, but the first time they got one on and released a hornet back into the wild, the transponder lost signal well before getting to the nest.

A captured hornet led straight back to their nest, which was promptly exterminated. Now they have to figure out whether any young queens escaped the destruction.

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