In this episode of the Global News podcastWhat happened to? Erica Vella looks at the invasive species, the killer wasps, that arrived in North America in 2019.
Moufida Holubeshen and her husband John Holubeshen have long been passionate about beekeeping; the couple has three of their own hives at their home in Nanaimo, BC
In 2019, Moufida recalled an email that caught his attention; some images of large wasps had led officials to believe there was a suspected Asian giant nest in Nanaimo.
Making a killer wasp The images reveal the inner secrets of the invaders’ nest
“I was reading and wondering what on earth is the giant Asian wasp? “I have never heard of this,” she said.
The Asian giant wasp otherwise known as the “murder wasp” is part of Vespa genus that includes about 20 to 25 different species. While they are known as giant Asian wasps, the scientific name is Vespa Mandarinia. It is a roof predator at the top of the food chain in the insect world and is commonly found in China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and other countries in Asia.
The average size of Asian giant wasps is about five centimeters in body length with a wingspan of about seven centimeters
When Moufida had begun to study the insect, she discovered that the invading species was native to Asia and, as the largest wasp in the world, could cause significant damage to local bee populations if the nest was not eradicated.
“I was already at DEFCON – whatever [John and I] agreed that we needed coordinates because we could not even start a search or extension without coordinates. Is it north of town, south of town, in the middle of town? “Where is this?” Said Moufida.
The first wasp nest is found for the 2021 killing near the BC-US border
She had contacted Paul van Westendorp, the provincial beekeeper of British Columbia to find out more details about the suspected hive and Moufida and John began their search.
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In the late afternoon of September 19, 2019, Moufida and John narrowed their search to a nearby park and five minutes after their hunt, John said he saw something special
“I saw something fly up,” he said. I stopped, waited and then saw some more. “I was very sure that these were giant Asian wasps,” said John.
The couple had found the nest, the first giant Asian wasp nest ever found in North America, and John was about to feel the wrath of his bite.
BC and the state of Washington unite to kill the assassination wasps
“It progressed to the feeling of being hit by a two-by-four; suddenly looked down as well [I] see a six inches from my face to my chest, “he said.
“I’m standing there trying to work out what just happened and I slowly realized that Moufida was yelling at me to move. [and] get out of there, because once they bite, they leave pheromones that attract others in the same area to bite. Shortly after that, I got out of the way and then got a kind of flushed face from my head, plus I could feel a sensation through my eyes. So I didn’t know if I was getting a reaction or if it was just an adrenaline rush. “We got out of there.”
Moufida and John had found the nest and assembled a crew of experts to help destroy the nest in September 2019.
In this episode of Global News What happened to? Erica Vella reveals more about Asian giant wasps and how they managed to arrive in Canada in 2019. She also learns how the insect earned the nickname “killer wasps” and finds out if insects pose a significant risk to North American bees.
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