How to ward off a giant hornet attack

This is not recommended.
This is not recommended.
Image: Reuters/stringer
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Thumb-sized giant hornets, which have a sting that’s been likened to a hot nail going through your skin, continue to plague the Chinese province of Shaanxi. More than 40 people have been killed by hornet attacks, and there are nearly 1,700 reported injuries.

As Quartz has reported, the hornets are proliferating thanks to global warming and are spreading to Europe, where they’re eating smaller and friendlier local bees. Since they’re seemingly here to stay, doctors and insect specialists in China offered up these tips to prevent an attack, courtesy of China Daily:

Stay away from their nests. Giant Asian hornets, Vespa Mocsaryana and Vespa Mandarinia, do not generally sting without provocation, but anyone touching their nests is vulnerable to a group attack. Keep at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) away.

Don’t run. If you do accidentally disturb a hornet or its nest, keep in mind they can fly faster than you can run. Instead, crouch low to the ground, stop moving and try to cover your head. Hornets are intrigued by moving targets and consider running a provocation, explained Li Xin, a professor of insect research at Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University.

Wear brown or black. Giant hornets are excited by bright colors.

Skip the aftershave. They are drawn to perfume and cologne.

Don’t be drunk: They’re also agitated by the smell of alcohol.

While recent media coverage has focused on the destruction wrought by the hornets, they’re a useful part of the ecosystem, Chinese scientists note, eating flies and other pests. Their venom can also be used to treat arthritis. That said, you really don’t want to make them mad. Stay safe out there.