Wildlife

Swarms of hornets in northwest China

A rash of deadly hornet attacks in northwestern China has killed 42 people and injured more than 1,600, local officials said Thursday.

The attacks began in July and have centred on three cities in China’s Shaanxi province: Ankang, Hanzhong and Shangluo. Local authorities believe a particularly venomous species, known as the Asian giant hornet, is behind the attacks.

They say the hornets, which can grow up to 2 inches long, are most active in September and October, when they breed and migrate. But experts quoted by the state-run New China News Agency offered different reasons for the unusual number of attacks this year.

Huang Rongyao, an insect control expert in the worst-hit city, Ankang, said increased vegetation growth was attracting hornets to the area while warmer than usual temperatures were making the insects more active.

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