Vespa mandarinia - BIO203


The reason we picked Vespa mandarinia is because it is not only the one of the largest insects in the world, but because of the vicious nature of its attacks on other colonies and its deadly venom (Matsuura and Sakagami 1973;Sugahara et al. 2009). The Asian giant hornet can obliterate entire colonies of bees and members of the Vespa family if their nests are weak enough, and the relentless nature of their assault shows an impressive use of chemical cues to ensure the attack continues (Matsuura and Sakagami 1973). This coupled with the small size of the attacking force made the insect all the more appealing to take a closer look at. It also has an impressive flight range, able to fly miles away to find food (Toh and Okamura 2003). Its relative ubiquity is also interesting as it can be found in a large portion of the Asian continent, though the most famous subtype of these organisms is the Japanese giant hornet, and indeed most if not almost all of the research papers cited here come from Japan. It’s important for people to know about these creatures not only because they can decimate entire colonies in hours, as many unfortunate beekeepers in the areas they reside in have most likely been warned of-or perhaps experienced-but also due to their aggression.  They have very strong mandibles, venom filled stingers that can be used to terrible effect on anyone stung by them and their long flight radius mean they can be dangerous to encounter in large groups (Matsuura and Sakagami 1973).  Not only are they an economic threat, but they also threaten the very lives of anyone who is unfortunate enough to provoke their aggression. That alone is enough to warrant learning more about V. mandarinia, and indeed it has been referenced in anything from Japanese games to online comics due to its fascinating form and dangerous sting.  In Japanese culture they can actually be considered a foodstuff, and while the Asian Giant Hornets can be eaten raw, they are normally fried. Some manufacturers have started putting the amino acids secreted from the larvae of the V. mandarinia into different dietary supplements, as well as energy drinks. The amino acids secrete are supposed to be able to help increase the endurance of the consumer (Sugahara and Sakamoto 2009).

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