TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A tour group walking to the Sazasa Open Air Museum in Taitung County on Wednesday morning (Nov. 8) was stung by Asian giant hornets, sending two into cardiac arrest and another nine requiring hospitalization.
The injured were part of a 120-person tour group from a New Taipei City Tucheng elderly association, which split into two different groups when visiting the Sazasa Open Air Museum as part of their 3-day 2-night tour of Taiwan's east coast, per UDN.
Taitung County Agricultural Department entrusted bee-catching expert Hong Jin-sheng (洪進昇) to remove the dangerous hornet nest on Wednesday afternoon. Hong was able to locate the hive near the root of a tree beside a road leading to the museum.
He identified the hornet as the Asian giant hornet (Vespa Mandarinia), which is often referred to as the “murder hornet” due to its propensity for feeding on insects such as honey bees. It has a large appetite and a half dozen of them can destroy a whole honey bee hive in a matter of hours.
Asian giant hornet is known as "murder hornet" for attacking honey bees. (Taitung County Government photo)
Hong said he encountered quite a few hornets flying about when he approached the hive, choosing to seal it first and then apply a pesticide to kill about 700 hornets. He noted that the Asian giant hornet is the largest hornet and has a stinger that can deliver a large dose of venom, per CNA.
Those with bee allergies may go into shock after being bitten, and multiple hornet bites can also be fatal. Based on his personal experience, people may accidentally stumble upon Asian giant hornet nests, causing them to swarm to protect their hive.
Should one encounter an Asian giant hornet attack, quickly leave the area, preferably traveling downwind. A hornet swarm can travel up to 10 meters away to protect a hive.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, there are currently seven species of hornets in Taiwan: the lesser-banded hornet, yellow-vented hornet, black bellied hornet, black-tailed hornet, Asian giant hornet, yellow-legged hornet, and the Vespa Vivax Smith.
Generally speaking, hornets and wasps build their nests on treetops that are difficult to access by humans, thereby improving the safety of the hive. However, the Asian giant hornet and the black-tailed hornet build their nests underground and are often difficult to detect. When humans accidentally encounter hives, a large number of hornets will swarm out and attack.