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Murder Hornets is weak when it comes to sex, scientists

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  • In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
  • In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)
  • Murder hornets can be confused with European giant hornets, which are in New England. (Courtesy of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry)

Watch out giant hornets, your next mating could be your last. Scientists have discovered that sex can be used to lure giant invasive hornets into traps.

The researchers created a synthetic sex pheromone to attract male Vespa mandarinia — also known as “murder hornets” — and capture them in traps that also contained a fake female hornet, according to their findings published in the journal Current Biology.

Vespa mandarinia hornets are an invasive species in North America that originated in Asia. While Asian bees have developed defenses against predatory hornets, North American bees have not.

In the United States, giant hornets have wreaked havoc on the bee population. It is estimated that the world’s largest hornets cause more than $100 million in bee-pollinated crop production each year.

Many people call them “murder hornets,” but that’s a sensational name that should be avoided, according to study author James Nieh, professor and associate dean of the department of biological sciences at the University of California, San Diego.

“We were able to isolate the major components of the female sex pheromone, a odor blend that is highly attractive to males who compete to mate with virgin queens,” Nieh told Gizmodo.

“When these components or their blend was tested in sticky traps, they captured thousands of males,” he added.

The researchers hope that their findings will help them combat the invasive species, which preys on endangered bee species across North America. According to CNN, hornets wreak havoc on $100 million worth of bee-pollinated crops each year.

Fortunately, the chemicals are widely available throughout the United States, so farmers and anyone else who doesn’t want terrifying hornets attacking their bees should be able to replicate the traps fairly easily.

However, it is not a perfect system for combating invasive species. According to Allen Gibbs, professor of life sciences at the University of Nevada, it may simply attract male hornets who have already mated, leaving the impregnated female hornet “free to fly off and start a new colony.”

The hornets, according to Gibbs, only mate for a few months in the fall, so the trapping method could only be implemented during that time.

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