So far we’ve had a global pandemic, locusts ravaging Africa and the Middle East, numerous earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and devastating storms, economic collapse and a sharp turn towards authoritarianism in many countries, increased international tensions, skyrocketing levels of unemployment, suicide and homelessness, a looming famine the likes of which we’ve never seen before and the Pentagon confirmed that UFOs are real.
Did I leave anything out?
Oh yes, murder hornets is currently trending on Twitter, right behind #noahschnappisoverparty.
This is because Asian murder hornets have invaded Washington state and begun decimating the local honeybee population.
The Asian hornets are reportedly enormous, with queens growing as long as two inches. According to the Times, the hornets utilize their mandibles, which are shaped like spiked shark fins, to decapitate worker bees, clearing hives within hours and feeding honeybee thoraxes to their offspring. The hornet’s venom causes unbearable pain for larger victims who are stung, which reportedly feels like hot metal being driven through one’s skin. They also can break through beekeeper suits, presenting a real threat to not only honeybees but also their keepers.
That’s some real nightmare fodder there, huh?
But wait, they’re just getting started:
Scientists say the Asian giant hornet’s life cycle begins in April. Researchers told WSU that is when the queen wakes up from hibernation and scouts out spots to build underground nests and grow colonies. Todd Murray, WSU Extension entomologist and invasive species specialist, told WSU Insider the “shockingly large hornet” is a “health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honey bees.”
But murder hornets become most dangerous from late summer to early fall, when they ravage through honey bee populations. WSU researchers said the hornets attack the bee hives, decapitating and killing the adults and eating the larvae and pupae. Just a few of the hornets can completely destroy a hive in a matter of hours.
We are so fucked.
Fun fact, though – did you know that hornets are sacred to Dionysos?
From Marianna Scapini’s The Symbolism of the Hornet in the Greek World:
The ancient sources, to summarise, clearly describe the behaviour of the hornet as very similar to that of Maenads–and above all of the murderous Maenads in rage. According to the ancients the hornet twists and twirls around, lives in the mountains, does not move in hierarchical groups, is without (male)-“kings”, and acts in a somewhat aggressive way, as it searches for raw meat. The detail of the cut off heads of other larger insects recalled by Pliny is particularly “Maenadic”, since decapitation was a typical act of the frenzied Maenads: it is sufficient to recall the Euripidean Agave with the head of her son Pentheus fixed on the top of her thyrsus (Eur. Bacch. 1139-43).
Lots more interesting stuff in there, definitely worth a read. Which you should have plenty of time for, since we are apparently never leaving our homes again, no matter how much work frees. (Despite being critical of the quarantine myself I would have loved to see the murder hornets descend on that crowd of cringey motherfuckers.)
But seriously, what new horror awaits us? My money’s on bloody rain, an attack on the electrical grid or jihadi tomfoolery. What’s your prediction?
Edited to add: No, wait. I’m changing my vote to hypnotoads.