Asian Giant Hornet or Japanese Wasp: Meet the Real Killer Bee

It is the world’s largest hornet at approximately two inches long, this specie is native to Eastern Asia. The Suzumebachi or “sparrow bee” are a ferocious wasp which using minimal numbers can destroy an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours and plunder its bounty.

Suzumebachi, Tiger’s Head Wasp a.k.a. Giant Sparrow Bee

They have an abnormally large head and formidable mandibles, giving them an especially fearsome appearance. Here is The Incredible Hulk of a Killer Bee. Don’t make them angry. -You won’t like them when they’re angry!


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Known in Japan as the ‘giant sparrow bee,’ these giant wasps seek other large insects, mantises and other hornet species to prey upon. They also seek colonies and hives of honey bees. Upon a lone scout or two having found a thriving hive, they emit a pheromone trail and wait for reinforcements of their kind to arrive. Carnage is soon to follow. Usually, only a dozen or so conspecifics are all that is required to mount an effective assault, then they attack! It is not even a fair fight, it is more of a massacre for 20 or 30 Asian Giant Hornets can obliterate a colony of 30,000+ honeybees within hours! Each Giant Wasp is capable of killing dozens of honeybees per minute. Their prize; the honey bee larvae and pupae, which they intend to carry away to feed to their own young.

Lacking any effective defense, the honeybee colony is doomed, fighting to the very last bee. Snipping honeybees in half with their giant mandibles, chopping off heads and crushing them with impunity are all part of the Asian Wasp’s battle strategy. Ordinary honeybees lack any organized or effective defense and the hive is soon lost to the invaders. The surrounding area will be littered with the dead and the dying honeybees by the thousands. The conquering Asian Giant Wasps will drink the honey from the now emptied honeybee hive and carry the helpless larvae back to their own nest to feed to their young. These wasps cannot directly digest the protein they have secured but instead feed the chewed up and regurgitated larvae pulp to their young, which in turn produce a clear liquid that the adults consume. This behavior is not uncommon among wasp species.

Asian Hornet in America: Attacking a Honeybee Colony

Their sting is especially painful to humans. Their venom contains chemicals that necrotize flesh, stimulate nerve cells that conduct pain signals and like all true wasps, their stinger is barbless. This means that they can sting repeatedly. Some people even have allergic reactions to the stings of these bees if stung enough times. About 40 people die every year in Japan due to Asian Wasp stings.

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45 Responses to “Asian Giant Hornet or Japanese Wasp: Meet the Real Killer Bee”
  1. Mr Ghaz Says...

    On May 12, 2009 at 7:18 am

    excellent!..thats really amaze me..nice and well written article about killer bees..must read..well done and thanks a lot for sharing

  2. Lostash Says...

    On May 12, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Wow!! Great article and the video footage really rams home the ferocity of these giant insects! Excellent!

  3. Kimber777 Says...

    On May 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Amazing article…very impressive friend:)

  4. ladybaby Says...

    On May 12, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Very interesting. I would not want to see one of them killers.

  5. DA Cournean Says...

    On May 12, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Excellent article!

  6. Duff D Moss Says...

    On May 12, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Holy crap! That thing is a monster. That was a fascinating article. Never heard of these before.

  7. Jo Oliver Says...

    On May 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I hope to never cross paths with one of these fellows.

  8. Barbara Anne Says...

    On June 11, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Interesting article. Several people tell me that we have these hornets around our home. We have a newly constructed log home and we are being told these hornets go for the “new wood” boring into them. Since all info states these are native to Eastern Asia can this be correct? If they aren’t the Japanses Hornet, what could they be?? We live in a rural area about 60 miles from Lynchburg, Virginia. Thanks

  9. Theresa Johnson Says...

    On July 24, 2009 at 6:44 am

    very interestiny and informative

  10. Darla Beck Says...

    On July 24, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Very informative and interesting article. We have what everyone calls “Japanese Hornets” around here and they are very aggressive bees. I am scared to death of those things.

  11. Garl Says...

    On August 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    We ll, they are here in North America, I have witnessed one chomping on a honey bee and wondered what the heck it was- hence my search.

  12. Bee Says...

    On August 13, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Yep, they’re in North America. A lot of entomologist wanna-be insect enthusiast say that they cannot survive in North America. Try telling that to the Giant Asian Hornets buzzing around Virginia. They certainly aren’t European Hornets on steroids. I witnessed one (with a 2.5 inch body) carrying a large cicada -scared me to death. I thought it was a humming bird!!

  13. Hmm... Says...

    On August 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    That’s a cicada killer… They’re not as dangerous as the asian giant hornet, but I’ve heard they can grow over 3 inches in length.

  14. joseph Says...

    On August 22, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    These BIG bastards are here in central Illinois too. I threw straight gasoline on one last week and the damn thing just flew away W.T.F.!!!!! Any suggestions on “terminating” them?

  15. Crazy Says...

    On September 17, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Yea i was driving down the express way at 65 mph and one of those big mutha******* flew into my car, talk about driving under pressure

  16. catlord Says...

    On September 18, 2009 at 11:48 am

    HAHAHAHAHA!! -You need to write this story up, give it a few images from Flickr to show your point, and publish it! :-)

  17. Ham Beats Hornet Says...

    On September 23, 2009 at 5:28 am

    @ Joseph:

    Not sure about pesticides, but dealing with either the cicada killer or japanese hornet (not sure which at this point, I’ll have to look closer the next time I kill one), I’ve found that ISBN 0-87259-999-X works great. Antennas apparently beat antennas in the 0500 game of rock/paper/scissors. I’ve killed a few of these things in the last couple weeks in northern VA, the first few with water bottles because it was cold and they were not at a normal energy level, but about a half hour ago it was warmer than it’s been so I had to resort to 0-87259-999-X.

  18. catlord Says...

    On September 23, 2009 at 7:17 am

    re: “…ISBN 0-87259-999-X works great. …had to resort to 0-87259-999-X.”

    -When a paperback book doesn’t kill the bee, -switch to a hard-cover book? Okay! :-)

  19. danielle hassinger Says...

    On May 13, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    yeah i just stepped on one of these things and i\’m in PA. my foot feels like i\’ts going to fall off! HELP

  20. Yourouham Says...

    On May 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Cannot believe how much a sting from one of these Japanese Hornets HURTS!! How did they get here from Japan? How are they getting in my house here in VA? Do they have a hive in my yard or something? EGADS!

  21. chris norris Says...

    On September 3, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    We are being assaulted by these in Georgia. Is this possible?

  22. Sarah Says...

    On September 6, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    About four of these beasts have gotten into the house. They are frickin EVIL! I live in North Georgia. I wish they would fly back to Asia! D: Any ideas on how to kill them without chemicals? I’ve squashed all of them with a dictionary…

  23. donna Says...

    On September 7, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I’m in the mountains of western NC and have tried killing 2 inside my house today! The first one was about this afternoon its now 1230 and it is still moving even with half its body gone. The second was about an hr ago its still wiggling around on my bathroom floor. I’m scared to touch it!

  24. Marty Weems Says...

    On September 11, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    What REALLY freaks me out is the way these things can decimate a whole honey bee hive. Why haven’t all these experts who’ve been scratchig their heads over the mystery of what’s killing our
    honey bees ever mention this thing? I have a whole nest of them
    entering a hole in the masonry underneath the gutter, going into
    the attic, I presume. Just discovered their nest….got to find a way
    to get them without forcing them to start looking for ways to get into the house….YIKES! They are HUGE!

  25. chelseabmc Says...

    On September 12, 2010 at 4:45 am

    while visiting my family in basset,virginia we found a awesome fishing site, but boy was i wrong!! I went back to my car for something thought a bird was in my car started swinging to get it out then i realized it was a bee!! i have never seen a bee that big or mean! It stung me three times and still flew away. I was in soo much pain wow i felt sick to my stomach.went to the E.R and they could not treat me w.o insurance!! my dad soaked my arm up in bootleg & had taken some benadryl. the pain and my nervs had the best of me. this happened a week ago and my arm is still puffy & sore. be aware of these killer bees!!!

  26. catlord Says...

    On October 24, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Basset, Va?!? Get out! *I* used to live in Basset, Virginia when I was maybe 2 or 3 years old!

  27. mostpopulararticle Says...

    On December 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    This article has been indexed inThe Triond Experiment Thanks and goodluck!

  28. vince Says...

    On January 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I saw them 20 years ago at ft. Eustice army base. Then I saw one In Maryland. They tick but to me it was like 4 inches long. An thick like a huge potato bug or flying Japanese cricket.

  29. Ouched Says...

    On March 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Beware! I thought they were harmess, but a nuisance. Until I leaned back on my couch, and one stung me, THREE TIMES, on the back and neck, in the process of ripping my shirt off. It was agonizing. They are very prolific here in Nelson County, Virginia. I am much more careful now in my encounters.

  30. CAROL L. Says...

    On April 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I was stung on the top of my hand pulling on a curtain…it felt like an I.V. going into my hand. The pain shot up my arm then my chest started to hurt and i got dizzy and nauseated. It was horrible.

  31. Mini Viking Says...

    On April 25, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    One got in my house here in Pickens, SC. We smacked it three times with a fly swatter after throwing a rag soaked in wasp killer on top of it. Eventually we put a heavy work glove on and squished it by hand. It was still moving. We flushed it so hopefully they don’t swim.

  32. Marilyn Imel Says...

    On May 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    i have been chased by these for no reason at all. my dogs have been stung by them,they are mean beyond compare,my poor german shepherds when they get stung i’ve seen their heads swell up like a balloon,and it lasts for a few days,. i have found if you ice the sting area on the skin it helps quite a bit with the swelling,and the dog seems to feel better. my husband got stung by one on his hand and it numbed his whole arm for days.. i just caught one following me around my chicken house,i trapped it in an oatmeal box up against the window,then put it in the fridgerator, make sure it couldn’t get away.(this was an hour ago).

  33. Lewis3265 Says...

    On August 17, 2011 at 10:52 am

    We have huge hornets like that in Central Oregon.

  34. Me Says...

    On August 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Just killed 2 in my house and 4 outside. (Quite the sight they did NOT want to die) Im in Central NJ. They are friggin HUGE!

  35. judyintheburg Says...

    On September 3, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    In Middleburg, VA – I have killed four in my house in the past two days. There is one flying around right now but I’m too tired to deal with it. I will kill every one of these F-ers that I see now that I know they kill honeybees.

    DIE evil bees!

  36. J.T. Funkhouser II Says...

    On September 7, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I just left the ER because something stung or bit me while driving. I wasnt sure what it was ,it was so painful I went to ER. I found it in the truck, that is some serious pain if I went to the DR. for it.The sting was on the base of the head.VERY PAINFUL, Those things are everywhere! J.T. Funkhouser in Star Tannery , VA.

  37. Diagem Says...

    On October 11, 2011 at 1:47 am

    I live near Lake Bowen and have an Inman, SC address. These hornets attacked my spot lights just after dark a couple of weeks ago. I had never seen one before and hope I never do again. The first attack occurred while I was storing pool equipment for the winter and I was stung on a hand. The next night they attacked the spot light on a deck on the back of the house. I knew what they were this time and sprayed wasp and hornet killer directly on them. It just spurred them on. When did these. When did these armored giant yellow jackets arrive in North America? Our sudden abnormally low temperatures appears to have ended their activity.

  38. Diamond Gem Says...

    On October 11, 2011 at 1:52 am

    I live near Lake Bowen and have an Inman, SC address. These hornets attacked my spot lights just after dark a couple of weeks ago. I had never seen one before and hope I never do again. The first attack occurred while I was storing pool equipment for the winter and I was stung on a hand. The next night they attacked the spot light on a deck on the back of the house. I knew what they were this time and sprayed wasp and hornet killer directly on them. It just spurred them on. When did these. When did these armored giant yellow jackets arrive in North America? Our sudden abnormally low temperatures appears to have ended their activity.

  39. zueus Says...

    On July 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    are people possibly mistaking cicada killing wasp for the asian killing wasp…. then again killer bees originate from africa. but someone acknowledged that they were responcable for bringing the african bees. Behavior and biology Cicada killer wasps are solitary wasps and have a life cycle very different from the social wasps such as hornets and paper wasps. The stings are designed to paralyze cicadas rather than for nest defense, so despite their large size, the sting is not as painful. The female wasps are not defensive, they will only sting if caught by bare hand or caught in one\’s clothing. Males will chase after other wasps or even buzz around humans, if one comes into their territory, but they have no stings. Adult wasps emerge about mid July in Michigan and live for about 2 months. Adult wasps will dig nesting holes during July and August. Nesting holes are usually in full sun, with sparse vegetation, in well-drained soils that are sandy slightly clayey. The soil thrown out of the hole usually forms a U-shaped open tunnel at the entrance (see Fig. 2 above). Female wasps will make burrows that are about 6-10 inches deep and drag paralyzed cicadas inside. A burrow may have 10 to 20 cells with each cell provided with 1-2 cicadas and one egg. Each female egg is provided with two cicadas and male egg is provided with one cicada. Eggs hatch into larvae in two days and larvae will consume the live but paralyzed cicadas in 4-14 days and then spin a coocoon. The larvae then enter into a diapause. They pupate in the next spring and emerge as asults mid July the next year, completing the full cycle. Female wasps will locate singing cicadas and sting them to cause paralysis, then either glide from a tree to their burrow or drag them to the burrow on the grass.

    Control and prevention If you do not enjoy the singing of cicadas during summer, then the cicada killer wasps are your friend. One female wasp will hunt 10-30 cicadas per summer. However when they become too abundant, especially near door steps, golf courses, or flower beds, people can get annoyed or scared. The most effective control is to use a tennis rackets to swat them like large flies, or one can capture them using insect nets. Because the wasp only nests in areas with sparse vegetation, improving your lawn with adequate watering and fertilizer will remove infestation after 1-2 years. If one prefers to use pesticide, locate the burrows during day time and apply pesticide after it is dark so the wasps are inside their burrows. Dusts such as bendiocarb (Ficam), carbaryl (Sevin), or diazinon can be applied to the nest entrance directly. If the density of burrows are high, consider spraying of the same type of insecticides. One may need to treat continuously for 2-3 weeks if there is an influx of new wasps from other places. If you are allergic to insect stings, have someone help you or call a pest control firm listed in your yellow pages.

  40. taylor Says...

    On July 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    wow… i just googled these things Zues is talking about b/c I heard a cicada going nuts in the tree above me. I loof up and it is falling out of the tree. I go over there and this huge hornet thing is stinging the piss out of it. This wasp dragged the cicada, which is a big insect, up the tree. Then, flew out over the neighbors yard. This thing looked vicious. I was literally scared of it and thought it was cool enough to google to find out what the heck it was. Pretty badass bug!!!

  41. catlord Says...

    On July 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you both for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated!

  42. atamio Says...

    On August 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I live in Knoxville, TN and I have been dealing with these monsters for weeks! I am truly scared of it. If u kill one, its like shouting “MAN DOWN!!” and u better get the hell inside because reinforcements are on the way!! As I type, my left arm is like a sausage from elbow down and I was stung 2 nights ago! There are no other flying insects in my yard they are dead or finally figured out waspzilla moved in.

  43. catlord Says...

    On August 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Wow! :-(

    Despite this and other warnings, I’d still look to see/capture one (have it mounted in a glass display case maybe??)

    Thanks for the feedback. Appreciated!\\


  44. Stew Guddat Says...

    On September 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I live in Japan, and we had a nest in some wood steps along side our house. I had one of these things just touch my leg, and stung me in that instant… IT HURT like hell!! I proceeded to take a hose and flush out the nest and killed every single bee in the process! Where the bee stung me swelled up some, and hurt for a day or two, but nothing more than that. If someone is allergic to bee/wasp stings, it would\’ve probably killed them if they couldn\’t get to a hospital, it was that potent.

  45. awhite Says...

    On September 24, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I can attest that these mean things are in the Charlottesville Virginia area! I was driving in my car with the windows down around 7pm, when i heard a buzz and a whack, hit my car. About 500ft later, I felt a sting like I’ve never felt before. I was barely able to bring the car to a stop, flew out and looked in the headlights for what was stinging me. As i was doing so, the gigantic bee flew at my leg and tried to attack me again. I ran into the house and immediately googled to see what the hell it was and came to discover these horrific insects.

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