Giant Hornets Are Killing People in China

28 dead, 18 in one city alone

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 27, 2013 9:14 AM CDT | Updated Sep 29, 2013 10:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – As many as 28 people have died and hundreds more have been injured in a wave of giant hornet attacks in China, the Guardian reports. Eighteen of the fatalities occurred in the city of Ankang alone. The stings are believed to be the work of the Asian giant hornet or Vespa mandarinia, which CNN describes as the planet's largest hornet species; they measure up to about two inches in length. Scarier still, their venom contains a neurotoxin strong enough to dissolve human tissue. "The hornets chased me about 200 meters, and stung me for more than three minutes," says one victim, whose kidneys were so damaged by the venom that his urine reportedly turned the color of soy sauce.

Some 583 people have been stung in Ankang since July 1—some more than 200 times, with most attacks happening in remote, wooded areas—in a city where just 36 died from stings between 2002 and 2005. Experts speculate that the increase in attacks is due to the recent hot, dry weather, which is ideal for breeding, along with land development that has upset nests. To deal with the issue, the city's major said a 24-hour emergency hornet response team would be set up, though attacks aren't expected to drop until the temperatures do, too.

Watch out for the half-inch stinger.   (Shutterstock)
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