Shaanxi Province is in northwest China, near the border with Mongolia. It is home to the Wei River, mountains, and deserts. It was the founding place of many feudal dynasties. Its capital, Xi’an, is an ancient city that was the eastern end of the fabled silk road.
And now Shaanxi Province can add another chapter to its rich and storied history: huge, killer hornets are killing citizens by the dozens. The hornets are of the vespa mandarinia variety — the largest hornet in the world, as big as a man’s thumb, with vivid yellow and black coloring. These gentle creatures have stingers that are six millimeters long and carry venom so strong it can dissolve human flesh. Those unfortunate people who are stung by the hornets not only have to deal with unsightly dissolved flesh bite marks, they often die of kidney failure or analphylactic shock.
According to the South China Morning Post, 42 people in Shaanxi Province have died of hornet stings since July, and more than a thousand have been stung. The hornets are more active than in the past, and Chinese authorities theorize that, with increasing development in the province, the hornets are moving into cities like Ankang in force. They are attracted by human sweat, bright colors, and sweet odors, such as from alcohol or perfume. They also focus on sudden movements, like running people.
So, you’re sitting at an outdoor cafe in Shaanxi Province, cooling off after a vigorous walk through town, enjoying an adult beverage and admiring the bright costumes of your fellow patrons, when suddenly you hear a queer high-pitched buzzing, see the other customers scatter, and then notice an airborne phalanx of thumb-sized black-and-yellow flesh-dissolving insects heading your way.
Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to be planning a trip to Shaanxi Province anytime soon.