An invasive species of hornet are being trapped by researchers with a nifty science trick.
Researchers have studied the sex pheromones of the queen hornet and used them to set up traps that have male hornets flocking.
The Asian giant hornet, which was dubbed the “murder hornet” by the media, is native to East Asia but touched down in the United States in late 2019.
The wily bug has a stinger about a quarter-inch long.
The murder hornet wreaks havoc on honey bee colonies and crop fields, putting the livelihood of insects and people at stake.
Professor James Nieh, one of the leading researchers studying how to capture murder hornets, told The Independent “They are amazing social insects, but they don’t belong in North America and harm our critical bee populations, so we should remove them.”
Scientists found that the male murder hornet is intensely attracted to the scent of the queen’s pheromones, which is primarily made of three different acids.
These acids are commercially available and used in traps that yielded thousands of captured male murder hornets.
The male murder hornets are misled into thinking they might find a breeding opportunity but end up meeting their demise in the bottom of a trap.
“The males are drawn to the odors of the females since they typically mate with them near their nests,” Nieh said in a press release.
Nieh thinks a pheromone bait will attract a good portion of the male murder hornets within a mile of the trap.
By cutting off the queens’ access to males the risk of murder hornets breeding will be greatly reduced and their population will be driven down.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture posted a map of existing murder hornet traps of all varieties set up along the US-Canada border.
In Asia, murder hornets kill about 50 people per year.
Their stinger injects a small dose of a neurotoxin called mandaratoxin, but researchers have found the hornets are also capable of spraying venom into victims’ eyes.
In 2013, swarms of murder hornets were responsible for 28 deaths and scores of injuries in China’s Shaanxi Province.
Experts advise that if you’re attacked by murder hornets, resist the urge to swat at them. Your best choice is to run away as fast as possible while covering your face.
Wildlife expert and YouTube stuntman Coyote Peterson deliberately stung himself with a captured murder hornet and said “it will put you in momentous amounts of pain for around six hours.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.