City Cast

Here's Why You Don't Need to Worry About 'Murder Hornets'

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on August 1
A Northern Giant Hornet pictured next to a Cicada Wasp Killer

Left: Northern Giant Hornet (Karen Ducey / Getty Images) Right: Cicada Killer Wasp (Nancy Nehring / Getty Images)

You’ve probably heard of “murder hornets.” They’ve taken the internet by storm since they were first spotted in the U.S. in 2019. But there are a few things you’ve probably gotten wrong about these hornets, and bug scientists want to set the record straight.

First of all, “murder hornets” just got a rebrand. They were previously known as the Asian Giant Hornet (or “murder hornets” by the public and the media). But in an effort to avoid anti-Asian sentiments, the Entomological Society of America officially introduced a new common name for the insect: the Northern Giant Hornet.

Also, despite their intensely painful stings that can sometimes elicit deadly reactions, they don’t actually murder people. (Yay! 🙏) But they do murder honeybees. (Boo 👎)

Lastly, they aren’t in Colorado. If you, like me, thought you saw one fly into your campsite recently, you were wrong. According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Northern Giant Hornet can’t survive in our dry climate. Instead, we’re most likely misidentifying the Cicada Killer Wasp, which is native to Colorado and is a rather helpful type of wasp. They tend to show ambivalence toward humans and help us eradicate peskier pests like locusts and cicadas.

Hey Denver

Want to know what's happening in Denver? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Denver. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.

Urban Almanac

See All

The latest in Denver