New to US: Hornets that butcher bees and sting people. Humans are fighting back.

By Hannah Hoag | Knowable Magazine |

USA TODAY - In August 2023, a beekeeper near the port of Savannah, Georgia, noticed that something odd was hunting his honeybees. Black with bright yellow legs, the flying insect would hover at the hive entrance, capture a flying honeybee and butcher it before darting off with the bee’s thorax, the meatiest bit.

“He’d only been keeping bees since March … but he knew enough to know that something wasn’t right,” said Lewis Bartlett, an ecologist at the University of Georgia, who helped investigate. Bartlett had seen these honeybee hunters before, during his PhD studies in England a decade earlier. The dreaded yellow-legged hornet had arrived in North America. 

“They eat everything,” says ecologist Erin Wilson-Rankin of the University of California, Riverside, who has studied invasive social wasps for nearly 20 years. “They don’t specialize. They’ll eat caterpillars, aphids, flies, the whole gamut of arthropods.”

This story was produced by Knowable Magazine.

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