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The best way to kill China’s deadly giant hornets: Meet the “divine gun” and “hornet pouch”

  • Gwynn Guilford
By Gwynn Guilford


ChinaPublished This article is more than 2 years old.

That’s how the People’s Liberation Army destroys the nests of the giant wasps that have been terrorizing China’s Shaanxi province: with a flamethrower (h/t RocketNews24). But what happens when there’s not just one nest, but thousands, all of them containing unusually irritable giant hornets, and the national guard is nowhere to be found?

The people of Shaanxi have their own time-tested traditional methods, the “six stratagems of war” (link in Chinese): attacking hornets by sack, fire, water, smoke, poison or fire extinguisher. The two most commonly used are the sack attack (dose the nest with pesticide, then throw a canvas bag over the hornet’s nest and yank it out by the roots) and the fire method (douse the end of a long wooden pole in fuel, light it and try to burn the hornets and their nest).
Fire attack: don’t try this at home… unless you have a motorcycle helmet and dishwasher gloves.​

The tried and true methods worked fine in the past, but his year’s spate of crazed hornet attacks, which have already claimed 42 human lives, requires a little more sophistication. Enter the ingenuity of the Shangzhou district fire brigade of Shangluo city. They just rolled out two devices that, despite their improvised appearances, are at the cutting edge of hornet-killing technology. Behold, the “divine gun“…

… and the “hornet pouch” (links in Chinese):

The “divine gun” is basically a welding gun mounted on a long pole, with a flame that reaches 2,000°C (3,632°F) and can torch a massive hornet colony (link in Chinese) in five minutes, wiping out all the hornets in the area, according to one journalist.

The “hornet pouch” is a double-thick canvas bag mounted on a hoop about 1 meter (3.3 feet) in diameter, which can be closed using an elastic band, and which is attached to an extendable rod. After two people steady the device and place it over the nest, another pulls a rope tied to the opening, cinching the bag shut. (It’s unclear how the contents are then disposed of.)

The combination of of the two has reportedly shortened the time it takes to wipe out a hornet’s nest from an hour to about 10 minutes, enabling the local team of hornet-killers to eradicate 300 nests in a couple of weeks.

The Shangzhou fire brigade is hoping it can get the word out (link in Chinese) about its inventions. Shaanxi’s a big province and though attacks appear to have calmed in severity and frequency, they’re still happening. (Fatalities have slowed since early October, but it’s not clear if that’s because of less hornet activity, more awareness, or successful eradication).

Meanwhile, hornet attacks are spreading out of Shaanxi. An assault on schoolchildren in Guangxi province left one child with 200 stings on his head and many more suffering multiple organ failure, as Beijing Cream, a Beijing-based blog, flags.

They’re also hitting the cities (link in Chinese). One person has died of hornet attacks in Xi’an, Shaanxi’s capital, while others have been stung to death in Chongqing. And one Ms. Zhang, who lives in Beijing, found this (link in Chinese, registration required) in her home (the nest is of mafeng, which can refer to giant hornets as well as other types of hornet):

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