Let me begin by stipulating that I know nothing about the personal politics or general character of Gong Zhenghong, the mayor of Hongshan township in rural China. All I know for certain is what I read in this Guardian article about the venomous thumb-sized hornets that have been responsible for 41 deaths in the region since July. That said, he is my new favorite politician. By a mile.
Ankang is on alert, with the local authorities posting warning notices online, on roadside treetrunks and on primary school walls. The crisis has exhausted Gong Zhenghong, the spiky-haired mayor of Hongshan township in rural Ankang. Since September, Gong has spent nearly every night wandering the township exterminating nests. He says there are 248 hornet nests in Hongshan, with 175 close to schools and roads.
Gong and his team survey nests by day; once the sun sets, they dress in homemade anti-hornet suits made from rain jackets and canvas, and burn the nests with spray-can flamethrowers. “They don’t fly around at night,” he said. Sometimes the team begins work in the late evening and doesn’t finish until 2am. “We’d normally send the fire squad to do this, but this year there were too many nests.” Gong left his office, returned with a black rubbish bag, and pulled out the charred remains of a nest, the blackened tails of bulb-like larvae protruding from its combs.
Best of luck to whichever political candidate chooses to run against the incumbent mayor who spent weeks at a time running around in the middle of the night with a spray-can flamethrower to help his overwhelmed fire department torch the nests of giant murderous hornets that were terrorizing his constituents. Dude is basically a spiky-haired version of President Whitmore from Independence Day.