Who knew the most dangerous thing about murder hornets was their name?
Scientists announced Monday that the terrifying insects’ official moniker, “Asian giant hornet,” has been changed to “northern giant hornet” — in what they say is an effort to prevent anti-Asian hate crimes.
“Amid a rise in hate crimes and discrimination against people of Asian descent, usage of ‘Asian’ in the name of a pest insect can unintentionally bolster anti-Asian sentiment,” the Entomological Society of American said in a press released.
While most people colloquially call the bugs “murder hornets,” the association said it feared the stigma attacked to the hornets’ scientific name could led to future violence.
“Common names are an important tool for entomologists to communicate with the public about insects and insect science,” the group’s president Jessica Ware added. “Northern giant hornet is both scientifically accurate and easy to understand, and it avoids evoking fear or discrimination.”
Anti-Asian crimes in New York City saw the largest increase in actual incidents in 2021, going from 30 in 2020 to 133 last year, for a 343 percent spike, according to NYPD data.
The scientists also said that all hornets are actually native to Asia, so the name doesn’t make much sense to begin with.
“‘Asian giant hornet’ does not convey unique information about the biology or behavior of the species,” the society’s statement read.
The massive bugs entered the U.S. in 2019 and caused quite the panic after pictures surfaced of their quarter-inch long syringe-like stinger.
The hornets grow up to two inches long and are known to eat honeybees.
A 2021 study from the Royal Society Open Science showed that honeybees “scream” to one another in the moments before they are slaughtered by giant hornets.
A few dozen of the hornets can tear apart a honeybee nest in just a couple of hours during a process researchers call the “slaughter phase.”
Scientists have feared that the Pacific Northwest could provide fertile grounds for the hornets, but luckily there has yet to be a major outbreak.
Last year, hundreds of them were killed after officials in Washington state managed to track down and destroy their huge nest.