KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The recent spotting of the Asian Giant Hornet in the U.S. has some worried about the future of our honeybees. Assistant professor of entomology and plant pathology at the University of Tennessee, Jennifer Tsuruda, says the hornets are a direct threat to honeybees.

“Some of the researchers refer to them as ‘murder hornets’ because in areas like Asia, there have been human deaths associated with the stinging and the venom from these insects, but there is also this issue of their impact on honeybee colonies. So they can decimate honeybee colonies in a short amount of time,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer says since the discovery in Washington state last year, researchers have been trying to track down the queen hornets to eradicate any nests that may have formed.

A.C. Mann, a local beekeeper, says he’s not too worried about the hornet coming to Tennessee, but if it does, he says it would be devastating for the local bee population.

“It’s a major part of our food chain. If we don’t have honeybees, we’re not gonna have any green stuff in the produce department for instance. They pollinate cucumbers, squash, just about anything in the produce department is pollinated by honeybees.” Mann said.

As of right now, none have been found in the state of Tennessee; however, there are insects that look very similar to the Asian Giant Hornet, such as the European Hornet or the Cicada killer, that have been mistaken for the Asian Giant Hornet.

“Other stinging insects including hornets that are mistaken for the Asian giant hornet one of the most common is the European hornet. So we want to make sure that people recognize the differences between these two before they start making claims that they have these giant Asian hornets in their area,” Jennifer said.

** FILE ** View of a dead Asian hornet after it was caught in a hornet nest in Parempuyre, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, in this Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007 file photo. Ambushing locals at they return home from work, Asian invaders are dismembering French natives and feeding them to their young. This horror film is playing in France’s beehives, where an ultra-aggressive species of Asian hornets, who likely migrated in a pottery shipment from China, may be threatening French honey production. It’s the latest Chinese challenge to France, struggling to stay competitive in the face of China’s booming economy and cheaper, more flexible labor markets. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

If you see an insect that you think looks like the Asian Giant Hornet, you can send pictures to your local extension office to help them make an identification. To find an extension office in your area, click here.