FACT CHECK: Were 3,000 ‘Murder Hornets’ Found Dead In South Carolina?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 47,000 times claims that thousands of Asian giant hornets, nicknamed “murder hornets,” were recently found dead in South Carolina.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that “murder hornets” – alive or dead – have been found in South Carolina.

Fact Check:

Asian giant hornets, known to decimate bee colonies, are the world’s largest species of hornets. They were sighted in the U.S. for the first time in December 2019, when the Washington State Department of Agriculture verified two reports near the Canadian border, according to The Associated Press.

A viral Facebook post falsely alleges in an image that 3,000 “murder hornets” were found dead in South Carolina, despite no there being no confirmed sightings outside Washington to date. (RELATED: Can Houseflies Spread COVID-19?)

Anne Lebrun, national policy manager for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Honeybee and Pollinator Pest Programs, told AFP Fact Check that “neither USDA nor WSDA has any evidence that Asian giant hornet populations are established in Washington State or anywhere else in the United States.”

Ben Powell, a statewide apiculture and pollinator specialist at Clemson University, also told WIS News 10 that the likelihood of Asian giant hornets migrating to South Carolina is “pretty low because they would have to traverse a bunch of different ecosystems.”

“Especially in the middle of the COVID-19 situation, when people are already antsy, a bunch of scary talk about an invasive species naturally will make them nervous,” Brad Cavin, the chief apiary inspector for the Department of Plant Industry based at Clemson University, said in an interview with The Newsstand. “But right now this hornet is approximately 3,000 miles from South Carolina. The only confirmations we have in North America are from Washington State near the Canadian border in December 2019 and from Vancouver, British Columbia, in August 2019.”

Facebook posts claiming that Asian giant hornets have been found in other states such as Illinois, Texas and Louisiana have also circulated in recent weeks, AFP Fact Check reported.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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