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Sex traps could muzzle mating of Asian giant ‘murder hornets,’ slow spread to B.C.

Researchers experimenting with ensnaring male hornets with sex pheromones
An Asian giant hornet from Japan is held on a pin by Sven Spichiger, an entomologist with the Washington state Dept. of Agriculture in Olympia, Wash. in May 2020. University of California researchers are now looking into using sex pheromones to trap male Asian giant hornets and reduce mating. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Researchers out of China and California believe sexual attraction may be the answer to slowing the spread of the world’s largest hornet.

Dubbed “murder hornets” for their ability to decapitate bees, the Asian giant hornets have been steadily making their way into the U.S. and Canada, including numerous sightings in B.C., in recent years.

So far, efforts to subdue their spread have focused on physically removing their nests, but a report released in March suggests a new method may be on the rise.

Research by a group of international scientists point to harnessing virgin queen hornet’s sex pheromones as the key. In several experiments, the team collected the pheromones off the queens and placed them into “sex traps,” capturing thousands of male Asian giant hornets and preventing them from mating. No female hornets were every tricked into the traps, according to the report.

The research is preliminary, but the scientists behind it are suggesting immediate further testing of their method. They are also working to identify more of the sex pheromone components, to perfect their sex trap mixture.

READ ALSO: Asian giant “murder hornets” found in Langley

READ ALSO: Invasive honeybee-eating hornets with toxic sting found on Vancouver Island for first time


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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