ANKANG CITY, China, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- An increase in hornet attacks in southwest China's Shaanxi province has killed 42 people and injured 1,640 since July, health officials said Thursday.
Of the injured, 206 were still in hospitals receiving treatment, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said.
The commission has set in place a guideline for treatment of hornet sting patients, urging local health agencies to follow the procedures to ensure the best treatment, Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The cause for the increase in attacks was still unclear.
Huang Rongyao, an insect control expert at the Forestry Bureau of Ankang City, blamed the attacks on local vegetation growth, which has increased the habitat for the hornets, in addition to the unusually warm weather, which makes the insects more active.
Hua Baozhen, a professor of entomology at Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University, said he believes there's an increase in hornets because of a decrease of their natural enemies -- birds and spiders.