The Killer Bee and Me

20 Jun

….aka The Reason I’m Blowin’ This Popsicle Stand

An unfortunately familiar wave of procrastination is what led me to commence packing and laundering in the wee hours of the morning, just hours prior to my Seoul trip in early May. As I was folding the final round of clothing, what I perceived to be a giant black fluff flew off my dress. And then it flew higher. And higher. And higher. And higher. Until it flew so high that it reached my ceiling light, at which point I deduced that this fluff was no fluff at all, but a flying savage beast whose sole purpose was to pirate whatever sleeping hours I could have hoped to have salvaged at this point. To protect myself from the terror imposed by the brute perched on my lamp shade, I quarantined myself in my laundry room. This safe zone is from where with once tired eyes, now wide as saucers, I deduced that my foe was in fact a bee the size of bird. Okay maybe a baby bird…..err a fetal bird. In all honestly, no embellishments, the monster was at least 2 inches long and quite stocky. Let’s just say if I owned a DSLR camera that my work would be currently gracing the pages of National Geographic.

As my writing of this post would prove, I did eventually make it out my laundry room; with my boss as my champion, swooping in and trapping the devil in a tupperware container completely unfazed (though likely rolling her eyes throughout). The ease to which I was rescued left me completely mortified, but not surprised, as just about any insect larger than an ant can induce in me a fit of panic.

However, while dining with a friend last week, a familiar fiend buzzed into the joint, leaving my friend genuinely shaken(at least slightly). Which brings us to tonight, when said friend told me that he was convinced that we had in fact encountered the Asian Giant Hornet (seen above). Wikipedia had the following to say about it’s sting:

The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is about 6 mm (¼ in) in length,[3] and injects an especially potent venom that contains, like many bee and wasp venoms, a cytolytic peptide (specifically, a mastoparan) that can damage tissue by stimulatingphospholipase[disambiguation needed] action,[4] in addition to its own intrinsic phospholipase.[5] Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University near Tokyo, described the sensation as feeling “like a hot nail being driven into his leg.”[3]

An allergic human stung by the giant hornet may die from an allergic reaction to the venom, but the venom contains a neurotoxin called mandaratoxin (MDTX),[6] a single-chain polypeptide with a molecular weight of approximately 20,000 u,[7] which can be lethal even to people who are not allergic if the dose is sufficient. Each year in Japan, the human death toll caused by Asian giant hornet stings exceeds that of all other venomous and non-venomous wild animals combined, including wild bears and venomous snakes.

The giant hornet’s sting reportedly kills around 40 people annually in Japan, which one could argue is rather minute in the scheme of things, but its certainly higher than that of the the common centipede, my ex-greatest foe (said friend also informed me of a poisonous centipede….let’s just eternal sunshine that conversation).

So it’s likely that I am over exaggerating the encounter slightly and am not in fact being stalked by killer bees, however, that won’t wont stop me from taking the precautionary measure of donning this outfit for the duration of the summer…

errr just joking(??)



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