Where Tatler shares its humor
By Willow Blythe
Art by Charlie LaMountain
2020 was the last season of some Monday night soap opera that was canceled suddenly. All these ridiculous plotlines had been introduced, and then the writers had to resolve each one cohesively and create a satisfying ending. Surprisingly, they managed to wrap up almost everything. However, there was something they all hoped we’d just sweep under the rug and pretend never happened. That’s right: I’m talking about the murder hornets.
For starters, I don’t think many people actually knew what the murder hornets were. They were in memes, and there were jokes about how 2020 is just the perfect year to toss in something this wild. However, there’s a lot more to this meme. First, there are no hornets native to North or South America. What we call hornets are just certain types of wasp. A true hornet must belong to the genus Vespa, which has twenty-two species within it. The “murder hornets” are more accurately known as V. mandarinia, and they are the largest hornets on the globe, growing to about the length of an adult’s thumb. Look down at your thumb. Can you see why people were so freaked out about these giant yellow monsters?
These hornets pose a notable threat to North American honeybees. They’re called “murder hornets” because they are adept at catching other bugs in order to feed their young. One quick method they use to hunt efficiently is swarming a beehive and killing every single bee inside. A nest of these hornets was shipped to California in 2016, possibly to be used in a specific type of liquor, but the package was intercepted before they could go on a bee-killing rampage. A nest was found in Vancouver in 2019, and more were found months later near the American-Canadian border. No one knows how many have been able to spread, hence the panic.
The surprising thing is that, even after being told about the hornets’ size and murderous tendencies, people don’t seem too worried. The biggest reaction I’ve gotten is an “ew” from my mom. We should be substantially freaked out by these giant insects of pain, but we aren’t. Twitter is an on-fire garbage can, and Chuck E. Cheese went bankrupt and Elon Musk’s baby still has that name. No one cares about the murder hornets because, at this point, it might as well happen, and anything short of a global emergency doesn’t seem to cause most people to bat an eye. Floyd Shockley, the entomology collections manager at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, said in an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, “Is it possible that a few beekeepers are going to lose a few hives? Yes. I can’t rule out that possibility. But is it going to be global devastation? No.”
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