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A sports drink made of hornet spit?

HornetSpitDrink.jpg

Japanese giant hornets, pictured here, produce spit that is now being used in a sports drink. (Image courtesy of Chris Kilham)

There is now a sports drink made with - I kid you not - hornet spit. People come up with the strangest things. This particular invention derives from Japan – home to many novel and offbeat inventions. The drink is called VAAM Power and the makers of this hornet-derived wonder promise it will do just about everything for you except wash your car.

Let’s set the scene here: The hornet from which this salivary exudate derives is no ordinary flying insect. Dubbed a killing machine, the bright orange Japanese giant hornet, Vespa Mandarinia Japonica, a subspecies of the Asian giant hornet, is actually one of the most dangerous flying creatures on earth. If Big Bad Leroy Brown were an insect, he would be this hornet, no question.

The Japanese giant hornet is not only as big as an adult’s thumb - with a three-inch wingspan -  it is also deadly. On average, about 40 people die in Japan every year as a result of stings from these bad boys. A casual stroll in the forests of the Japanese countryside can lead to a funeral procession. These hornets actually qualify for creepy. 

As is the case with all hornets, these carnivores live off of other insects. When they hunt, the Japanese giant hornets send out a scout. But a full squadron is not far behind. Once the scout finds some interesting prey, it releases a strong pheromone to attract the rest of the pack. And that’s where the fun really begins. If you’re unlucky enough to get stung by one of these creatures, just wait a moment and the rest of the crowd will show up to finish you off, with a vengeance.

Just a few of these giant hornets can destroy a nest of thousands of bees in a matter of minutes. One especially horrifying video on YouTube video shows the process. In the video, a group of 30 Japanese giant hornets bite the heads off of 30,000 bees, who are helpless in the face of the decapitating mandibles of these powerful giants. It is a gruesome massacre. 

According to testimonies from people who have been attacked by these creatures and have lived to tell the tale, the sting is agonizingly painful. Their venom attacks nerves and makes a wreck of them, and can even damage bones. Think Godzilla with wings and killer venom. And if you jump into water to escape, they will hover over you, track you and kill you when you come up for air. 

Now, back to the spit drink. When the Japanese giant hornet finds prey, it chews up the muscle tissue into a mash, creating a paste containing a fluid known as vespa amino acid mixture (VAAM) – thus, the name of the sports drink. According to the promoters, it’s this fluid that enables these giant orange killers to engage in intensive activities over extended periods, including flying up to 60 miles per day at speeds as fast as 25 mph. Even Usain Bolt couldn’t outrun these guys. 

For PETA members or vegans, there is no concern about hornets being blended to make the sports drink, as synthetic VAAM is now being produced as an ingredient for increasing athletic performance.

The theory of this product is that if VAAM will make Japanese giant hornets the super-athletes of the flying insect world, it will do the same for humans. The makers of VAAM offer up a few scientific studies to support their claims of enhanced endurance, and of course weight loss. They also tout vague testimonials from athletes in the marketing of their product. 

Does the hornet spit sports drink work? I haven’t a clue. But VAAM, and its counterpart Hornet Juice, win a prominent place in my Strange Health Products category, hands down. In any case, read up on the fearsome orange Japanese giant hornet, watch the YouTube bee massacre video, and that alone will make you want to run - very, very fast.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at MedicineHunter.com.