Since the past few days, there have been reports of black and orange hornets spotted in America. These are the Asian giant hornets, also known as ‘Murder Hornet’. Following the news, some videos were shared on social media. The first video shows a worm attacking a rat/ mouse. In the second video, people can be seen running haywire, trying to get away from insects. Apart from this, a video of a broadcast of Zee Media’s English news channel WION is also being shared.
On May 14, Facebook page ‘Super Videos and Jokes’ shared these videos claiming, “A new type of fly in America has destroyed life… People are upset. Troubles add on. (America Me Nayi Kisam ki Makkhi Ne Jeena Haraam Kar Diya Hai…Log Pareshan Hai.? Mushibat pe Mushibat..)” (archive)
America Me Nayi Kisam ki Makkhi Ne Jeena Haraam Kar Diya Hai…
Log Pareshan Hai.?
Mushibat pe Mushibat..
On May 10, the video of people running helter-skelter was posted by another Facebook page ‘نهفات وابداعات’ stating that it is from India. As of this writing, the video was viewed 1,100 times (archive)
These videos have been widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook. They are also being forwarded on WhatsApp as “hornet attack in America”. Alt News has received several fact-check requests on its mobile application.
Asain giant hornet and the extent of their spread in the US
According to a May 4, 2020, article in National Geographic, scientists are concerned that these ‘Murder Hornets’ can spread throughout Washington and pose a threat to American bees as well as humans. The ‘Murder Hornet’ comes from Japan and East Asia. The group of hornets consists of a queen and a number of worker flies. They can travel more than half a dozen miles in search of food. Hornets like to eat many kinds of insects but specifically enjoy feasting on bees. These insects are nearly two inches in length, the world’s largest wasps. They can decimate beehives in minutes. Researchers say that if the Asian hornet bites a person about 50 times or fewer, the person can die of kidney damage. Every year in Japan, 30 to 50 people die from the sting of these hornets. In 2013, when populations of the hornets were unusually high, they killed 42 people in a single Chinese province.
“As of now, researchers can’t confirm how the hornets arrived. Looney says it’s most likely they got accidentally trapped in shipping containers from one of the countries where they’re native,” reads the article. Chris Looney is an entomologist at the Washington State Department of Agriculture. At the end of 2019, a whole hive of hornets was found in Nanaimo, Canada, and destroyed. Looney says if the hornets are not stopped in the next few years, it will be very difficult to curb their growth.
In this report, we will fact-check all the three videos one by one.
Video 1: Mouse and insect
Searching on YouTube with the keywords ‘mouse and wasp’, we found the same video uploaded on July 14, 2018. The channel did not give details about the video. But it is not linked with recent sighting of hornets in America since it has existed at least since in 2018.
Video 2: People running helter-skelter
After breaking the viral video into several frames using InVid and reverse-searching one of the frames, we found a fact check article by media organization AFP published on June 2, 2020. The report says that the video of people fleeing everywhere was posted by a Facebook user on April 4, 2020. (archive version of the post)
Commenting on the Facebook post, a user claimed that the video was shot at a shopping centre in Managua, Nicaragua. AFP found a post from Managua’s Central Z-1 fire department, which is 2.5 km from the shopping centre. The post talks about an attack by insects outside the shopping centre on April 4, 2020.
Sobre un Enjambre de Abejas Africanizadas que Afectaban a la población en las cercanías de Metrocentro..
The post states in Spanish that the fire department received a call claiming that African bees have attacked outside the metro centre. A spokesperson of the department informed AFP that these videos and photos were shot on the same day (April 4). He also stated that no such incident has taken place in the metro centre since the last few days. Therefore, a video of an attack by African bees in April was linked with Asian giant hornets spotted in the US.
Video 3: WION News
The broadcast by WION News talks about ‘Murder Hornets’ sighted in the US. It doesn’t mention that the pests have attacked humans. In fact, there are no reports of large-scale attacks. An article in CNN says, “For the first time, Asian giant hornets have been spotted in the United States, specifically in Washington state, scientists say. Beekeepers have reported piles of dead bees with their heads ripped off, an alarming sight in a country with a rapidly declining bee population.”
It further adds, “The giant hornet was first spotted in the state in December, and scientists believe it started becoming active again last month when queens emerge from hibernation to build nests and form colonies.”
Therefore, unrelated visuals were shared online after news of the Asain giant hornet sighted in the US came to light.