August 10, 2020 - Podcast

Episode 18—IU News: Murder hornets may be here to stay, and more

Murder hornets. It’s a phrase that sounds straight out of a comic book, making interesting headlines and sending a shiver down some people’s spines. But according to IU researcher Marc Lame, they’re very real and might become a permanent resident of the United States. Native to eastern and southern portions of Asia, the giant hornets have been detected in British Columbia, Canada and Washington State. Lame, a clinical associate professor at Indiana University's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, says if the hornets are not stopped in Washington, they will likely spread across the more temperate regions of the United States. Because they are closely related to U.S. paper wasps, Lame says they will probably reside where those are also established. Lame says if the murder hornets do establish themselves and don’t encounter natural enemies, they probably will become permanent. Very few invasive insects have ever been successfully eradicated once they are established, he says. To stop the invasion of the insect, Lame says much depends on a successful, coordinated and well-funded government surge. But even then, it might not work. The good news is that although the name sounds ominous, murder hornets pose little risk to humans. The real concern is the risk to honeybees, who have no defense against them, and native social insects, such as bumblebees.

In other news, the pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives, including people’s sexual lives. A new study by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University found the most common new additions to people’s sexual repertoires show a reliance on technology to connect with their partners now, specifically through sexting and sending nude photos. However, while more people may be engaging in sexting behaviors, another new study by Kinsey Institute researchers found that unsolicited sexting is distressing for many recipients and could be considered sexual harassment. The researchers surveyed American women and men from 18 to 91 years old, asking them about experiences receiving explicit images of male genitals sent using any digital platform or device. They found that 80 percent of the men and almost 50 percent of the women had received a genital image. Among those who had ever received nude photos, nearly all -- 91 percent -- had also received an unsolicited image. While it's likely that most senders of such sexts are hoping for a positive response to their image, the primary finding of the study was that women reported overwhelmingly negative responses to unsolicited nude images while gay and bisexual men reactions were more often positive. Alexa Marcotte, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and lead author of the study, says given that dating is happening online more than ever before, particularly in the time of COVID-19, it is vital to understand how sexual communication and consent happen on digital platforms.