A deadly species of hornets, commonly found in Japan, that can kill up to 50 people a year have now arrived for the first time in the United States, according to a report from the New York Times.
Asian giant hornets, or otherwise known as “murder hornets,” were first discovered in the U.S. last fall in Washington state, NYT reports.
Two sightings of the insect were confirmed in January of this year in the areas of Blaine and Bellingham, Washington, according to a map on the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s website. The insects are typically between 1.5 to two inches long, have black and yellow stripes and have a large, orange head.
These giant hornets are the largest of its species in the world and officials said they are worried their presence could have a devastating effect on the United States’ bee population.
A report from Time Magazine said the hornets target bees and can enter a “slaughter phase,” where they decapitate them and take over their hive as their own. This can be done in just a number of hours.
If they continue spreading across the nation, bee populations could see a decline, which would also affect crops that rely on pollination.
Officials said the hornets are most active during the late summer and early fall seasons, according to Time.
The hornets can also pose a threat to humans, as their stingers are larger than a bee’s, more toxic and they can sting multiple times, Time reports.
However, they don’t usually attack humans or pets unless they feel threatened.
No other sightings of the insects have been reported as of yet.
Following the NYT report, “hornet” was one of the top trending search terms in the U.S. on Saturday.