5.9 hornets

Sometimes, the truth stings.

It comes along to trip you up and burst your bubble; leaving you deflated and, often times, confused as your mind tries to rework the old information.

It’s not a comfortable experience by any means.

Sometimes, we would’ve preferred the rumors — the alternative facts, the old wive’s tales, the big fish stories, the old yarn — or whatever we like to call “not entirely true” nowadays.

They are often more exciting.

It’s why gossip columnists and tabloids sell so well.

People like to be titillated. We like the shock and awe of a juicy piece of news.

Especially when we can share it and see the shocked expressions of others.

It’s entertainment — a way to lighten up an otherwise normal day.

Who cares if it’s not “entirely” true?

The facts will sort themselves out, right?

Get ready for a sting.

In reality, things rarely often sort themselves out.

Often times, they just create a veritable hornet’s nest.

It’s why I was madder than the aforementioned insects this week when I was scrolling through social media and was inundated by posts of the United State’s next big threat.

THE MURDER HORNET.

We’re doomed, I was led to believe, by the flashy headlines and numerous comments.

To make matters worse; it was here, right here, in my neighborhood in Madison County.

Local people had posted pictures of one of the villainous specimens they had personally executed just three days before.

Proof, right there on social media, of our imminent destruction.

A pandemic and, now, a murderous swarm of giant hornets?

The end is nigh.

I get it.

The Asian giant hornet (as it is actually called) looks like something out of a monster movie.

It’s huge — nearly two inches in length — and according to entomologists, pack a mighty bad punch if it stings you.

A quick You Tube search gave me an even more grisly picture of the insect — videos of the apparent hornet dispatching a mouse with ease and the goose egg-sized lump as evidence of its potent venom when a human is stung.

To make matters more grim (as if I needed any more bad news) the giant wasps favorite prey is the humble and vulnerable honey bee.

The homicidal-nicknamed bugs can massacre an entire honey bee hive in the matter of hours — dispatching their victims most gruesomely by decapitating thousands of helpless adult bees and kidnapping the orphaned larvae to feed their own young.

In the U.S., European honey bees are especially vulnerable against the giant foe as their stingers can’t even penetrate the hornet’s tough armor.

I really do get it.

It’s scary and the implications of this new “threat” to our nation is ripe for all manner of buzz.

Comments flowed below the article from CBS News with the grim headline: “‘Murder Hornets’ have now entered the U.S. — and they could decimate the honey bee population.”

Oof.

That’s a stinger and the comments and amount of shares proved it.

My news feed became full of images of the menace as the hype spread and people’s crystal balls fired up with speculations of an apocalyptic world where the human race are clad in gas masks, without food because the honey bees are gone, and we cannot go outside because great winged beasts will swoop down and snatch the neighbor’s unsuspecting chihuahua.

Then I grew suspicious, I went on the hunt — not for wasps — but for something more elusive — facts.

I put on my research hat and took to work diving into the depths of the internet; pouring over every article with a flashy headline to find the nuggets of fact and truth within.

Frustrated, as I often am nowadays with our national compatriots in the media, it took a few minutes to discover the truth I suspected all along.

It’s not a virus or a murderous hornet we need to fear.

It’s misinformation.

And the (not direct) way facts are presented in a lot of “news” recently.

That’s why I was delighted to see the Madison County Extension Office had posted a simple message this week on their Facebook pages.

“This hornet has NOT BEEN found in Kentucky!”

The local photos being shared have been of the look-alike European hornet.

I appreciated the direct, clear message of our local and trusted extension office to the public.

It backed up what my research had indicated.

The “murder hornet” invasion isn’t likely forthcoming.

According to a pair of National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine articles I found, the facts are this:

The Asian giant hornet is real.

Only two DEAD specimens of the insects have been found in Washington in late December.

The hornets were found just south of where a hive was discovered in Canada last September. That hive was destroyed at that time and no live insects have been discovered so far this year.

Entomologists have already been at work setting traps in the forest of the Pacific Northwest to contain any hornets that might emerge during the insect’s prime period in late summer and early fall.

Even if live hornets are found in Washington later this summer, they are unlikely to travel east to Kentucky as the lush, rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest are similar to the hornet’s native habitats in Asia.

So, really there is no need to worry unless you are a honey bee in Washington — and even then — the humans are taking action.

It’s mostly hype, but national news stories like this often times have a way of creating more buzz locally than it probably should.

It’s why I implore people to read local news from trusted sources.

Too often we get swept away by what’s going on outside the Commonwealth and it’s even easier to get our news from social media these days.

Often times, those articles are designed to go viral with click-bait, flashy headlines that don’t always reveal the whole truth.

In the worst cases, some of these “articles” are just not true at all.

Now don’t get me wrong, I encourage people to stay informed and national news has its place on your reading list; but there is a lot of local news right here in Madison County that will probably effect your daily life more than what’s happening on the other side of the country.

Be cautious about what your are taking in and I encourage you to take the time to seek out the truth among the hype.

I hope the Richmond Register is one of those trusted sources for you.

Sometimes we get it wrong, we’re human, after all.

However, if we do make a mistake we have a duty to tell you about it and correct it any way we can.

It’s part of the social contract we have with our community. You pay us to track down the facts amid the swarm of gossip and speculation.

It might not always be flashy, but it’s pertinent, local, and written by a group of people who care about the community in which we live.

We aren’t in the business of trying to scare you, sway you or be the next viral sensation.

We are interested in telling you the truth.

So don’t worry about the murder hornets. They are not in Kentucky, and most likely, never will be.

But, if they do ever set up shop in Madison County.

We will let you know.

That’s the truth.

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