Killer hornets swarming in China have caused the deaths at least 19 people and have stung more than 500 more in the central Shaanxi province in the last 12 weeks.
Authorities in China are warning residents to stay out of open fields and woooded areas to avoid contact with the prime suspect, the Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) — the world’s largest hornet species with a 3-inch wingspan, a 2-inch body, and a quarter-inch-long stinger that delivers venom that contains a potent neurotoxin.
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CNN reported that since July 1, in Ankang, where most of the fatalities and injuries have occurred,
583 people have been stung and 70 hornet victims remain hospitalized. Other news outlets reported a higher death toll and injury count.
A man who was stung this week while harvesting rice said the hornets were relentless.
"I ran and shouted for help, but the hornets chased me about 200 meters, and stung me for more than 3 minutes," Chen Changlin recounted to the state-run China Youth Daily
Chen said the hornets attacked him after swarming a woman and child who ran to him for help. They later died from their stings.
Outrunning the hornets is not an option as they can travel up to 25 mph and fly more than 60 miles daily.
Earlier this month, 23 children were stung in their heads, necks, hands and feet.
The Asian killer hornets “are formidable killers” when it comes to attacking other insects, according to the nonprofit Honeybee Conservancy
The attacks are blamed on several factors, including the hot weather, which creates an a perfect environment for breeding and development of rural areas, which the hornets consider their territory.
The Ankang city government has announced it will invest more in regional hornet control and it has formed a 24-hour emergency hornet response team.
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