Dozens have died and hundreds have been injured in giant-hornet attacks in central China:
The hornet attacks are a recurring problem in the area from May to as late as November. According to Ankang police, 36 people died in the city and 715 were injured by the creatures between 2002 and 2005. But Zhou said the issue had been particularly severe this year, possibly because of weather changes.
The culprit appears to be the Asian giant hornet or Vespa mandarinia, which grows up to 5cm long with a 6mm sting, although the area is also home to the smaller Asian hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax.
Yeah, the Asian giant hornet is pretty terrifying:
The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is about 6 mm in length, 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 stimulating phospholipase action, in addition to its own intrinsic phospholipase. Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University near Tokyo, described the sensation as feeling “like a hot nail being driven into my leg”.
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), a single-chain polypeptide with a molecular weight of approximately 20,000 u, 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 is around 30-40. Advice in China is that people stung more than 10 times need medical help, and emergency treatment for more than 30 stings. The stings can cause renal failure.