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Giant Hornet
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Giant Urban Hornet

       As of today, March 17, 2050 the giant urban hornet can now be found on six continents. The giant urban hornets life history is a result of global warming, urban decay and the abundance of sugary sweets. Scientists have been studying what we now call the giant urban hornet for over 50 years. In the year 2014 42 people were killed and 1,600 were injured in China by large hornets. The species started to spread throughout Asia and Europe. In 2004 they arrived in France in a delivery of Chinese pottery. In 2014 these were the largest hornets that existed on Earth. Of course we know today that the hornets could become much larger and that this was just the beginning of their evolution into what we now call the giant urban hornet.

       The Chinese hornets of 2014 were aggressive and predatory animals that sent out scouts looking for honeybee hives. Once the scout found the hive they would send a pheromone trail that other hornets would follow. The hornets would slaughter thousands of the much smaller honeybees and take over the nest for themselves. These invaders are thought to have arrived in Europe in deliveries of Chinese pottery in 2004 and took over Europe destroying nearly the entire honeybee population in its wake by 2019.

      This earlier species of giant hornet seems small by today's standards they were only 2 to 4 inches long. Today's giant urban hornet is 4-6 inches long. The species grew so large by moving into urban areas where there is plentiful food and building material for nests and few predators. Because they are so large birds do not eat them. Their only predator is humans. In 2014 a study at Ontario's University of Guelph reported that Hornets were using bits of plastic bags and plastic building material to construct their nests and no longer needed honeybee hives. The finding is significant because it showed the hornets resourcefulness. A researcher at the time noted that plastic waste pervades the global landscape and the impacts of plastic on the ecosystem included insects adapting to the plastic rich environment. The researchers at the time said larvae successfully developed in their plastic lined nests and Hornets emerged parasite free suggesting plastic nests may be a physical barrier to parasites. It reflects the ecologically adaptive traits necessary for survival in an increasingly human dominated environment according to the report.

       Geographic isolation led to numerous local adaptations and because of global warming they began to spread to larger areas that used to have a winter too harsh for their survival. With humans eating so much sugar, their main food source, scientists found the hornets becoming more and more hearty. As global warming increased the temperature of the earth many of these hornets started living through the winters becoming larger and larger. It was the perfect storm to create urban giant hornets according to Skyler Loftus Nobel prize-winning biologist. Loftus noticed as early as 2020 that the giant hornets were not only getting larger but healthier. Choosing the nesting material made of plastic kept them safe and warm from predators for longer periods of time allowing the species to grow exponentially. Loftus notes that the perfect storm includes readily available sugary food discarded by humans, warmer climate throughout the world and plastic building materials that allow the hornets to become larger and larger. Loftus reported in his best-selling novel on the subject that by 2075 these hornets could be as large as dogs.



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