Scared of 'murder hornets'? Here are the myths--and facts

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COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - Just when you thought COVID-19 was enough to worry about it, the internet finds a new way to terrify humanity.

Washington State Dept. of Agriculture

"Murder hornet" is a slang term for the Asian giant hornet, according to David Ragsdale, a Texas A&M University entomologist and the leader of the newly formed task force on the insect commissioned by Governor Greg Abbott.

The large flying bug, about the size of a thumb, is native to Japan and South Korea, but it recently made its way to the United States. Now, Ragsdale says it has become an invasive species.

On First News at Four, Ragsdale explained that the hornets have been dubbed 'murderers' because they are capable of killing entire hives of American honeybees. Ragsdale says the murder hornet is only murderous to other insects, not humans.

However, "If you're allergic to bee stings already, this hornet is about the size of your thumb," said Ragsdale. "It's the world's largest hornet, and it can deliver about seven times the volume of venom that a honeybee can deliver. So if you're already sensitive to bee stings, this is gonna be one that packs a big wallop."

Still, humans are not the hornets' target.

"It's not a huge threat to people," Ragsdale said. "It's more of a threat to the honeybee industry."

Right now, scientists like Ragsdale hope that the U.S. hornet invasion is isolated to Washington state--and that it won't spread. There have only been four confirmed sightings, and Ragsdale says there has not yet been evidence of growing colonies.

If you see what you think might be an Asian giant hornet, you are asked to report it to the Texas A&M task force. See the related links.

Watch the full interview in the player above.