SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

Murder Hornets have a new name but the same reputation

Jul 28, 2022, 3:52 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 10:21 am
Murder Hornets have now been renamed to Northern Giant Hornet...
FILE: Entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture on Thursday located the first-ever Asian giant hornet nest in the United States on a property in the town of Blaine. (Karla Salp, Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP, April 23, 2020)
(Karla Salp, Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP, April 23, 2020)

Scientists have renamed the Murder Hornet. They are now known as the Northern Giant Hornet. The invasive insect created a lot of buzz when it first touched down in Washington and British Columbia, Canada, back in 2019. Striking fear into people and beehives alike. 

Changing the name of the Murder Hornets serve two purposes said the Entomological Society of America (ESA) in a press release.

“Common names are an important tool for entomologists to communicate with the public about insects and insect science,” said ESA President Jessica Ware, Ph.D. in a press release. “Northern giant hornet is both scientifically accurate and easy to understand, and it avoids evoking fear or discrimination.”

The ESA adopted guidelines in 2021 barring the naming of insects after ethnic and racial groups. The ESA also bars names that could cause fear in the general public. The Northern Giant Hornet, formerly known as the Asian giant hornet, could have also unintentionally fanned a growing uptick of anti-Asian sentiment. ESA guidelines also discourage geographic references for invasive species. 

Although the Murder Hornet’s name is changing, its reputation is not. The Northern Giant Hornet continues to attack and destroy beehives in Washington state. According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a few hornets can destroy a beehive in no time. The hornets do not generally attack humans unless they are provoked. 

Murder Hornets in Utah? 

The ESA said the northern giant hornet is currently confined to one county in Washington state. It’s also found in parts of British Columbia. The Northern Giant Hornet making a surprise visit to Utah is unlikely according to experts

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Murder Hornets have a new name but the same reputation