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Wild Things :: Sting of the Hornet

Have you heard it takes seven hornet stings to kill a horse, three an adult human and two a child? This is an old myth so the next time you see a hornet don't run in panic or beat it mercilessly. Most people consider hornets dangerous and even the sound of their buzz causes fear and panic. The hornet has become a rare site in Germany because so many people went out of their way to kill these guys. What people don't realize is that these guys are peaceful animals, even shier than honey bees. That's not to say they make great pets. But people who are striking out in fear are those most likely to be stung.

The Look

Female hornets are 25 to 35 mm long, while males and workers are smaller. They have reddish-orange wings and a brown stripe on their orange stomach. They are closely related to ants and bees. Hornet's hind wings join to the fore wings with a row of tiny hooks. Like most nest building insects, hornets are very protective, so people think they are aggressive stingers.

Where to Find Them

Hornets can be found throughout most of Europe, Asia, the US and Canada. They aren't too picky about their home and often live in old sheds, deep in terraces, balconies and lofts. Nests found in trees are becoming rare. The nests look like a large, inverted teardrop-shaped ball usually attached to a tree, bush or side of a building. Hornet nests may hold thousands of wasps and are often located out of reach.

If you've been stung: Cooling the area is soothing, the same for bee stings. In exceptional cases hornet stings, like other insect stings, can cause an allergic reaction from an overactive immune system. These reactions begin with noticeable swelling and redness in the affected area. In the case of a reaction you should see a doctor to be on the safe side.

Hornet Juice

This might sound gross, but drinking the stomach juice of hornets is supposed to give an extra buzz. It seems to work for Japanese Olympic Gold winner Naoko Takahashi. Before and during the marathon, she would down this unusual drink because Japanese scientists found it gives a boost to human performance. A Japanese company is now selling the raw juice as an energy drink. Who knows how long until it is available in North America

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