PAT NEAL: The Quarantine Chronicles: A new reason to stay home

JUST WHEN YOU thought things couldn’t get any worse, we got another good reason to stay home, locked in isolation for the foreseeable future.

The world’s largest hornet, a 2-inch nightmare dubbed the “murder hornet,” has been found in Washington state.

The Department of Agriculture says the “murder hornet” can sting multiple times through most beekeeper suits, delivering up to seven times the amount of venom as a honey bee.

The sting can kill tissue around the puncture several millimeters in radius and depth.

The “murder hornet” hunters at the Department of Agriculture are ordering special reinforced beekeeper suits from China to find and exterminate this new invasive species before they find and exterminate our precious remaining honey bees.

Add specially reinforced Chinese bee suits to the growing list of protective gear that we might be advised to wear on any venture that requires us to travel out of our homes or vehicles.

Although if you have ever been stung by a hornet while driving, wearing a special Chinese beekeeper suit while on the road might not be such a bad idea.

Our nation’s top bug czars don’t know how the “murder hornets” arrived, but rest assured America, sooner or later we will find someone to blame.

The “murder hornets” are said to have come from Asia which makes you wonder how people survived there all these years.

Until then we will have to cope with this new threat to our democracy the way we always have — with eternal vigilance until we grow bored with the newsfeed, ignore it completely and move on to another dire threat to our way of life.

Our country has not faced such a significant threat from a foreign insect invader since the arrival of the killer bees back in the 1980s.

Remember those? Probably only by the “Killer Bees” portrayal on Saturday Night Live back when the show was funny.

While the number of people who seek medical attention for bee stings is small, the potential to grow larger is concerning.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the number of deaths from hornet, wasp and bee stings in the United States has been rising to a high of 89 in 2017. Approximately 80 percent of the deaths were among males.

Is it just a coincidence most bee sting victims are males? I think not.

Killing hornet nests is a manly thing to do, at night after a few drinks. But there are many other insects with scary names that are threats to our way of life and physical well-being that we are in danger of ignoring amid all of the hype about the “murder hornet.”

Black widow spiders have a venom that can cause trouble breathing and such severe pain that it can be mistaken for appendicitis or a heart attack.

The bite of a Brown Recluse spider can destroy human tissue.

There is no anti-venom.

Mosquitoes remain the most dangerous insect on the planet transmitting deadly diseases to humans since forever. Unfortunately, we haven’t come up with a scary name for mosquitoes.

The problem all along is that we are worrying about the wrong bugs.

Honey bees are a vital pollinator providing a service necessary for the propagation of the global food chain.

Meanwhile, this country lost 40 percent of its honey bee population from 2018 to 2019. While there is enough blame to go around for this tragic loss from parasites, diseases, climate change and agricultural chemicals, that is not sensational news.

“Murder hornets” are.

There is no reason not to panic at the arrival of this scary bug.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via [email protected].

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