Grant County Extension Connection

Episode 11: Murder Hornets!

May 12, 2020 Jessica Swapp
Grant County Extension Connection
Episode 11: Murder Hornets!
Show Notes Transcript

The Asian Giant Hornet also known as the "Murder Hornet" is all the rage on social media. NMSU Extension Entomologist and NMDA State Entomologist, Dr. Carol Sutherland helps sort through the hysteria to give you research based information on these hornets.

Jessica :   0:00
Welcome to the Extension Connection podcast. The Grant County Cooperative Extension Service is here to help connect you with research based information about economic development, energy and water, farm and ranch, yard and garden, natural resources, health and well being, and our very popular youth development program 4-H. I'm your host, Jessica Swapp, the 4-H and agriculture agent here in Grant County, New Mexico. We are part of New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science and we are here to serve you. So let's get started.

Jessica :   0:50
Coming up, I hope you'll enjoy my interview with Dr. Carol Sutherland.. Um, she is the lady, at NMSU that knows everything about insects. She's my go to person to figure out what kind of bug you might have in your yard or to answer questions about things that are very popular, like the Murder Hornet. So I hope you'll enjoy! [Bee's buzzing sound effect]

Jessica :   1:15
Alright, welcome to the podcast today. Today I have with me. Dr. Carol Sutherland she is the NMSU Extension Entomologist and the state entomologist for an NMDA. So welcome to my podcast. 

Carol:   1:31
Well, thank you very much.  

Jessica :   1:36
Yeah! So let's talk a little bit about you first. Um, let's talk about your background education. Anything you want to tell us about you and what you do.

Carol:   1:45
Okay, a few little things. Anyway, well, I have been interested in Entomology, for I guess, over 40 years I've gotten a bachelor's degree in biology, which has been quite useful and a PhD in Entomology. And that was from Oregon State University have been associated with the University of Florida briefly and then, for again, almost 40 years now with New Mexico State University serving as an entomologist there. What I do on a regular basis, I do, um, well, short term type teaching things with master gardeners and our pesticide applicator training program. And I also do identification for both the extension service, all the county agents, all of public, and also for my colleagues over at New Mexico Department of Agriculture. So that's basically what I do.  

Jessica :   2:46
Great! That's not very much!  

Carol:   2:47
No, not too much. No.  

Jessica :   2:51
Um, yes, so in your 40 years, you've probably seen a lot of things.  

Carol:   2:57
This is true. Yeah, And I keep seeing new things. Like just the other day, I was, uh, asked to identify this interesting orange with black insect that was collected just down the road in La Union here in Dona Ana County. It turns out to be a critter I've never seen in this state before. How about that? It's a native insect to places further to the east is called a scorpion fly. And it looks more like a beetle with a long nose on it and totally harmless to people. Really interesting behavior. Yeah.  

Jessica :   3:31
Wow!   

Carol:   3:32
Anyway, yeah!

Jessica :   3:33
Any idea how it got there?  

Carol:   3:35
I think it's probably just part of his normal distribution. It can be moved by probably storm winds. You know, some of those that come up seasonally when we have different wind patterns and things like that. Of course, it doesn't blow it all here into Mexico. But you know when it does, it could move say long distances. So I mean, that might be a possibility. It is known from parts of Texas, Central Texas, but anyway, this is a pretty neat little critter. It was found by a fellows granddaughter. She took a picture. I wish we caught the specimens. Yeah, pretty neat. So I'll keep my eye out for it.  

Jessica :   4:16
Well, cool. Well, what I wanted to have you on the podcast for today is probably the most popular insect. Um going on right now, which is the Asian Giant Hornet aka the Murder Hornet. [Scary music, scared woman screaming sound effect]. So I wanted to visit with you a little bit about that.  

Carol:   4:40
Okay.  

Jessica :   4:41
Yeah. Why do they have that name?  

Carol:   4:44
Probably because there were some very creative folks who probably posted that information and kind of screwed some of the details up. Put it on something like Facebook read by a lot of people, you know, they just get wow, they see these fantastic words, and what not and it's surprising. It's, you know, scary to use words like murder and kill and all that kind of stuff and their giant. You know, they're from foreign places, stuff like that. We've already had an experience this year with this Asian kind of problem, here. We got the, uh, Covid-19 virus. You know, that sort of thing. That's something you ought to be afraid of. Not these guys. Yeah. Yeah. These guys.  

Jessica :   5:32
Yeah. So the phrase Murder Hornet that was just made up by someone that's not an actual...

Carol:   5:39
No, not an actual. No.  Not at all, no not at all. These are insects that belong to a family, probably everybody in New Mexico and elsewhere has experienced. It's called a Vespidae. These are the wasp the hornets that you may see around your home or in a tree somewhere. Some of the hornets, for example, will make these neat little paper nests that that about size of a cantaloupe, sometimes that hang from a tree branch. And you've probably seen the paper  wasps nest on the eve of your house or brushed into it while you're out there doing gardening. And you know it's usually not a big deal in the spring. But the behavior of them changes in the fall because they're getting ready to reproduce and have new queens and stuff like that, and they need a lot of protein. So they're very defensive of what resources they have. So they can sting you. Yeah, and that hurts, but, you know, it doesn't kill anybody. Certainly not that frequently, but I mean, you learn your lesson. So these guys are much the same way there a little bit bigger, that sort of thing. But they never did get established as far as anyone among North American soil, either in extreme Southwest Canada, British Columbia or in extreme Northwest United States. And that would be up there in Blaine, Washington area. Okay, so anyway, so that's it. You know, they found. Ah, apparently one small colony that had apparently established briefly in September, and that was on Vancouver Island. So if you look at a map, you'll see where Vancouver Island is, and that was exterminated. And then they found a dead one over in the Blaine, Washington area. And I guess that was in December, and that was that.  And one wasp is not a colony mate. They cannot reproduce. Only the queen can reproduce. If you have workers, all they could do is defend the queen. And, you know, they're resources and stuff like that, so they can sting multiple times. Yes. So if you, you know, brushed into these guys around your house, um, the paper wasp, for example, that would be, you know, something that you deal with, you know, fairly, fairly usual basis. So you have some understanding what we're talking about.

Jessica :   8:19
 Right. So, um, basically, um, you know, unless you're, you're allergic or you have some sort of underlying health issues or something like that. These were just a regular, these are just a giant bee basically right?  

Carol:   8:35
Yeah, or a giant wasp. If you look at it, you're probably find pictures of it on the Internet, and what not. And I know the University of California at Davis has a very excellent factual, um, short story on the individuals that were involved in identification of this particular insect and responded to the initial collection of the, the insects, there in Canada and in Washington, and, yeah, they don't have any, any reason to believe there's any other of these insects escaped detection. They haven't established. 

Jessica :   9:18
Right, right. 

Carol:   9:19
So anyway, take some comfort in that, and it's really an excellent write up. Not very technical. I'm pretty sure the general public can read it and, you know, understand what they're talking about.  

Jessica :   9:33
Yeah. I think I'm gonna go ahead and share a publication that you actually sent to me on our Facebook page for people just to kind of help, um, keep the hysteria down over these murder hornets .  

Carol:   9:49
Right.  

Jessica :   9:49
Because, yeah, I've already this morning while I was preparing for this, I've already seen three posts on Facebook about this.

Carol:   9:59
Good greifI Yeah. No kidding.  

Jessica :   10:02
Yeah, you know that, that's going to be the next thing that we all have to stay inside and...

Carol:   10:07
No, no, no, no.

Jessica :   10:09
Yeah, yeah. So basically we have nothing to worry about.  

Carol:   10:13
I don't think so. I don't think so. You know, a lot of people are gonna be out doing their you know, their thing around the house, doing gardening, doing some a little bit of horticulture work out there, trying to relieve a little bit of tension just, you know, cooped up in the house for all the time with the Covid-19. So that's nice. Maybe they'll get out. They'll take a hike or something like that. They'll see some insects out there buzzing around and get all excited. These are probably all of our little native creatures that you'll see we're gonna shortly have the cicada killer wasp out they're fairly large, they're solitary. They're out there looking for cicadas. That's what they use to reproduce on. Our state insect the tarantula hawk wasp, the coloration is different. Little early yet for it to show up. But it's impressive, especially for folks who haven't lived here very long. You do have yellowjackets, we have paper wasp. You know, they're usually pretty skinny little critters, hornets, that sort of thing and a variety of other creatures that are out and about right now. And you know, if they get excited about anything if they could take some really good photographs of them,  really up close ones or capture the insects. You know, they know that they're a county extension office, will, be you know, receiving them, making arrangements to receive them. Or you can receive the photographs and forward them to me, that sort of thing, so we can identify what these folks are concerned about.  

Jessica :   11:47
Well, thank you so much for clearing things up. I know. I'm definitely feeling better now about this whole...

Carol:   0:00
Good.  

Jessica :   11:53
...murder hornet situation.  

Carol:   11:58
Right, yeah.

Jessica :   11:58
 I really appreciate your time and your expertise.  

Carol:   12:02
All right, well, hopefully it will be helpful to all the listeners. And again, if they have any questions, you know, they can let you know when you pass it on, you'll get the the issue resolved. Hopefully, Yeah. Okay.

Jessica :   12:17
Well, thank you so much.  

Carol:   12:19
Sure.

Jessica :   12:19
Thanks everyone for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, don't forget to hit the subscribe button on Apple podcast, Stitcher, Google play, or whatever app you're using to listen to this podcast. Want more information? You can visit us at our website, grantextension.nmsu.edu follow us on Facebook at NMSU, Grant County, CES, Snapchat at Grant County NM 4-H, shoot us an email at [email protected] or give us a call, (575) 388-1559.        

Jessica :   0:00
New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

Jessica :   0:00
Hooky with Sloane by Bird Creek Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommSound Effects provided by Soundsnap