Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Today I Nearly Pooped My Pants; The Sparrow Hornet

Step back, World. I've got a story.

So it's been a little warm in class at Nanzan Uni lately, so during Japanese class we opened up some windows. The windows there don't have any screens (Japan doesn't have napkins, paper towels and sometimes toilet paper, either, so this really didn't surprise me, I'm sure they're expensive...though you'd think a private school would have a couple...) but this has never been a problem before.

Today, though. Today it was a problem.

As our teacher was explaining about our partner project we have coming up, I noticed Jeff's facial expression change in the corner of my eye. I glanced at him, saw his widened eyes and mouth taking the shape of an, "O," and followed his gaze to my left, where the windows were.

Now, let's take a brief pause here. I want to start by saying that I've dealt with bugs before. Spiders I can handle with a vacuum or even just a tissue, wasps and hornets that have built nests in my old apartment in Madison were taken out with hairspray or were trapped between screen door and glass door but effectively guarded off from the sanctuary of our living room.

But this. This thing that entered our classroom through the window by my side. This was not, by any means, a harmless spider, a small wasp, or even a big wasp.

This was a HUGE ASS hornet.

I introduce to you, people of the world, the suzume bachi. Known literally as the sparrow hornet. Wanna know why it's called a sparrow hornet?

Because it's as big as a mother-effing sparrow, that's why. Its other name is the Asian Giant Hornet. Pleasant.

It's affectionate nickname is the yak-killing hornet, and it is the world's largest hornet.

The world's.



With a body around two inches long (TWO INCHES. DO YOU KNOW HOW BIG TWO INCHES IS?) and a wingspan of three inches (THREE INCHES IS 150% BIGGER THAN TWO INCHES), it's nickname isn't the yak-killing hornet because it tells great jokes to yaks until they die of laughter. 

It's called the yak-killing hornet because its venom can kill things the size of yaks. Like people.

Here's a few fun facts about the Asian giant hornet that LITERALLY makes it too terrible to fit the term, "Terror Bug":

-The venom contains at least eight distinct chemicals, some of which damage tissue, some of which cause pain, and at least one which has an odor that attracts more hornets to the victim.

-Because of the large quantity of venom, this species has one of the greatest toxicities per sting.

-The enzyme in the venom is so strong that it can dissolve human tissue.

-Like all hornets, V. mandarinia has a barbless stinger, allowing it to sting repeatedly.

-Specific to some wasps, and due in part to its large mandibles, the Asian giant hornet can simultaneously bite and sting, leading to compounded excruciating pain.

-The venom contains a neurotoxin called mandaratoxin (MDTX),[6] a single-chain polypeptide with a molecular weight of approximately 20,000 u,[7] which can be lethal even to people who are not allergic if the dose is sufficient. 

-Each year in Japan, the human death toll caused by Asian giant hornet stings exceeds that of all other venomous and non-venomous wild animals combined, including wild bears and venomous snakes.

Hohohohohohooookay, I have something for YOU, nature!

Right, so now that we're all aware of what these massive beasts can do, back to the story.

One of these got in through the window. The window that was right next to my desk.

Luckily for me, I've known about these assholes for a while now, so the minute I saw it get through the window I got up from my desk, ditched my bag, books, and water bottle in the middle of my teacher's explanation of our project and walked away, going, "Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope NOPENOPENOPENOPENOPE." Simultaneously, everyone noticed the bee the size of a sparrow - it's a bit hard to miss - and began moving away from the window as well.

It swam about lazily in the air, acting as though it didn't have the power to mass-murder all of us as it flew wherever it pleased. With everyone's eyes on the hornet, our teacher told us to leave the room. He also mentioned something about taking our things.

I was already at the door, so I cautiously made it back across the room to my seat to retrieve my things that I had unceremoniously ditched during my decision of fight or flight (flight, FLIGHT, FLIGHT). 

After a full minute and a half of striking terror within all of the IJ500 Japanese students however, the sparrow hornet lethargically made its way out of the room and a student near the window slammed it (and the rest of the rooms windows) shut.

And that, everybody, was my terrifying encounter with the largest hornet on the planet. 

And no, if you were wondering, I'm never opening a window again.

If you want to learn more about these bees, you can see how they attack the european honeybees like Spartans, wiping out an entire honeybee colony even when outnumbered a thousand to one:

But in Asia, there are honeybees that have developed a defense mechanism to kill these massive hornets (their European counterparts have yet to evolve to such a level, this kind of thing takes many millennia to adapt to), which includes the honey bees swarming an Asian giant hornet and vibrating their bodies against it until it's baked alive:

Nature plays cruel jokes on people sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. Crap Haley, almost died laughing! No home school for you, you got a long way to go. BUGS LIFE looks pretty good! don't you think?