'Killer hornets' claim at least 42 lives in mainland: Xinhua
AFPBEIJING -- Swarms of hornets have killed 42 people in northwestern China in recent months, state media said Thursday, as temperatures rise and development drives the stinging insects into cities.
October 4, 2013, 12:17 am TWN
The terrifying attacks started in July, the official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday, with 1,640 people having been stung.
Of those, 206 are being treated in hospitals, it quoted the National Health and Family Planning Commission as saying.
“With the development of air-conditioning, urban landscaping and residential environment, hornets have started to migrate and relocate to cities, which has increased the probability of their hurting people,” Xinhua said in a report Wednesday.
It carried a photo of a doctor examining a hospitalized patient with several large and swollen sting wounds on the legs.
It also quoted Huang Rongyao — a senior official concerned with pest control in the city of Ankang, which has borne the brunt of the attacks — as attributing the phenomenon to warmer-than-usual temperatures in the region.
“Furthermore, hornets are sensitive to bright colors, the smell of human sweat, alcohol, perfume, any specially scented articles and things that are sweet as well as the running of humans or animals,” Huang said.
Hua Baozhen, a professor of entomology at Northwest Agriculture Forestry University, attributed the attacks mostly to a decrease in the number of the hornets' natural enemies, such as spiders and birds, due to ecological changes.
The Shaanxi Daily has said the attacks were centered on the cities of Ankang, Hanzhong and Shangluo.