Rare hornets nest in Norman home, man says

Tuesday, July 29th 2008, 7:09 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, News 9

NORMAN, Okla. -- There's some buzz surrounding a home in Norman, after a rare type of hornet has chosen the location to nest. It started as just a hole, then homeowner Lee Pierce quickly noticed large insects began flying around their newly-established home.

"I was sitting on the back porch and I saw this really huge hornet," Pierce said. "I asked my wife is she had ever seen anything that size. I know I'd never seen anything like that in Oklahoma."

After researching, Pierce said he believes he's found the exact species of hornet buzzing around his Norman home.

"I think it's the Giant Asian Hornet," Pierce said.

How the hornet could have reached Oklahoma is unknown, but Pierce is adamant they are the deadly species.

Tracey Payton, a bug expert and Oklahoma State University extension educator, examined video of the hornets Pierce was able to capture and decided the hornets are Cicada Killers.

Payton said although the Asian hornet bears a resemblance to the cicada killer, there are distinct differences.

"They get narrow toward the abdomen," Payton said. "The stripes aren't broad all the way across."

The cicada killer is deadly to cicadas, but described as "docile" by Payton.

"They take a bit to get you to sting them," Payton said. "The males actually can't sting, they don't have the parts to do it." Payton said.

Pierce said the dead insect probably was a cicada killer, but he said the others are so big, he still worries they could be the Asian hornet.

"I'm scared to come back here," Pierce said. "I wouldn't want my kids back here. You get stung by one by one, it is possible hospitalization and or death."

Until he captures one and has it identified, Pierce said he won't feel safe about the bugs in his backyard.

The Giant Asian Hornet can travel up to 60 miles at a speed of 25 mph.