Deadly Asian hornets make first appearance in Japan on island of Tsushima

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The first Asian hornets found in Japan were seen on Tsushima, an island between Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula. The discovery has prodded local and central authorities to exterminate theinsects immediately.

Scientifically called Vespa velutina, the insects known for their fatal sting, originated from China. It has already spread to other areas like South Korea and Europe, and has dealt a huge blow on the ecosystem and health of the people living there. Recent studies made by Takatoshi Ueno, associate professor at Kyushu University and local nature enthusiast for the city of Tsushima, show the deadly insects are now spreading throughout the island. Ueno described the insects to “have strong reproductive powers and could suddenly spread if they enter mainland Japan.” He also noted that the same kind found on Tsushima were the same species that wreaked havoc in South Korea and Europe.

The Asian hornets can be as long as 3 centimeters, and normally prey on bugs. However, it can also attack humans persistently, especially those that threaten their nests. Though smaller than the Asian giant hornets already common in the region, the ones they discovered are more aggressive than the black-tailed kind presently found on Tsushima. The black bodied and red headed kind targets Asian honeybees. Researchers believe that the species came to the island from ships arriving from South Korea. As many hornets’ nests were discovered on the northern area of Tsushima, many exterminators were sent to destroy them, but Ueno said that measures to remove the nests are not enough considering the nests are often found in branches near top of the trees and on cliff faces.

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