Let’s start with the Tarantula-Hawk Wasp.
The Tarantula-Hawk is a type of wasp with an excruciatingly painful sting that lasts only three minutes, but feels like a lifetime. The pain, rated four (highest) on the Schmidt sting pain index, is best described as “fiercely electric”. Bug experts and people who have been stung claim the pain is a lot like getting electrocuted. And the best strategy to deal with it is – get this – to lie down and start screaming!
According to a report in the Journal of the Kansas Entomology Society, “Tarantula-Hawks produce large quantities of venom and their stings produce immediate, intense, excruciating short term pain in envenomed humans.” The report adds that “the instantaneous pain of a Tarantula-Hawk sting is the greatest recorded for any stinging insect,” but “the venom itself lacks meaningful vertebrate toxicity.” In other words, the wasp’s sting isn’t deadly, but it’s so painful that it’ll make you want to die.
And now, the Asian Giant Hornet.
Why you must fear it:
Asian giant hornets are the largest hornets in the world some larger than the size of your thumb. The average one grows to 2.2 inches in length, which is small compared to a car but TERRIFYINGLY HUGE when you consider it is a wasp the size of a meatball. And, they can spray flesh-melting poison. We really wish we were making that up – what a terrible thing; a three-inch acid-shooting hornet! And it shoots it into your eyes. And the poison also has a pheromone cocktail in it that will call every hornet in the hive to come over and sting you until you are no longer alive!
Think you can outrun it? It can fly 50 miles in a day. It’d be nice to say something reassuring at this point, like “Don’t worry, they only live on top of really tall mountains where nobody wants to live,” but no, they live all over the place, including outside Tokyo in Japan and Beijing in China.
According to recent reports out of China, 21 people have died as a result of Asian Giant Hornet stings in the last couple of years in the province of Shaanxi alone.
One health official suggested that air pollution has somehow led to increased breeding among the insects. The mayor of one affected city in Shaanxi announced last week plans to establish a 24-hour emergency response team to combat hornets in light of the recent fatalities. (Wasp season in China runs from May to November.)