At least 28 people have been killed and over 400 injured by hornet stings after a plague of the winged insects struck Shaanxi province in recent weeks, the Guardian reports.
Victims described being chased for hundreds of metres by the creatures and stung as many as 200 times.
Most of the attacks in the past three months were in remote, rural, wooded areas in southern Shaanxi, the province’s China Business newspaper reported.
In the city of Ankang alone, 18 people have died from the stings, health official Zhou Yuanhong told Associated Press. People in the cities of Hanzhong and Shangluo have also been injured.
The insects’ highly toxic stings can lead to anaphylactic shock and renal failure. An official from Ankang’s disease control centre urged people to seek medical help if they received more than 10 stings, and warned that emergency treatment was required for those stung more than 30 times.
At the Atlantic, Gwynn Gilford explains why this year has seen more than twice the average amount of hornets for almost a decade:
The population of Asian giant hornets (vespa mandarinia), as they’re known, has surged largely because of climate change, says the Shaanxi Provincial Forestry Department. The average winter temperature in Ankang rose 1.10 ℃ in the span of a few years alone, allowing more hornets to survive the winter. And it’s not just China; rising temperatures are behind the spread of another deadly Chinese hornets species, vespa velutina, in South Korea and Europe.
The hornets aren’t only deadly for humans, they prey on honeybees and can wipe out a 30,000 strong colony in just a few hours.
Living outside of China won’t keep you safe either, Chinese hornets gained a foothold in France in 2005 when they arrived in a pottery shipment, and have already spread to Spain, Portugal and Belgium. The European Environment Agency expects them to arrive in the UK and Italy soon. Sightings of Chinese hornets have also been reported in the US.
Kill them. Kill them with fire.
[Image credit: @wwarby]