Tips on how to survive a hornet attack issued by Council of Agriculture

The Council of Agriculture issued advice on how to respond if attacked by hornets, in order to reduce the chance of serious injury from the potentially deadly insects.

Taiwan is home to the world’s largest hornet, the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), as well as other less, but still potentially dangerous, species of the Vespa genus.

The COA quoted it’s advice from a workplace health and safety booklet “Outdoor Work Hornet Attack Prevention Manual.” The issue was in response to a number of recent attacks, mainly on hikers. One such recent hornet attack in New Taipei City was fatal.

Autumn is a season when the hornet population peaks, and they are at their most active levels. This coincides with an uptick in the number of people taking to trails as the weather becomes more comfortable for outdoor activities.

The COA advises a three-point strategy if a hornet attack occurs:

Calmly dodge: the first and reflexive response to a hornet buzzing around you is to frantically wave it away. However, the hornet is a social insect and such an action could attract other hornets. The COA advises to stay calm. Don’t wave your hands, but lower your body and try to move away. At the same time, refer to step 2.

Cover your head and neck: use your clothing to cover your head and neck, because stings to those areas could cause the most harm.

Leave the area: if you are under attack move as fast as you can and if possible, downwind of the swarm or hive to reduce the ability of other hornets to hone in on pheromone signals if you have been stung.

The COA advises that if you have not been stung, move away in long jogging strides to minimize the risk of attracting the hornets attention. Do not wave your clothes, or hats as you move, the COA advice recommends.

If someone is stung by a hornet, the COA says the wound may blister, or ulcerate, so take care to avoid infection. Apply ice to the affected area to relieve pain and swelling symptoms. Pay special attention to whether acute allergy symptoms occur, such as dizziness, palpitations, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness. If any of the latter occur immediately seek medical attention.

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