Operation Killer Bees generated quite a buzz as an April Fools' Day prank in 1994, when residents of Glendale and Peoria, Arizona, found yellow fliers in their neighborhoods warning them of a killer bee attack in progress.
The posters told people to stay indoors while widespread aerial spraying attempted to slay a marauding killer bee population, according to the Museum of Hoaxes website. The bottom of the flier also listed an official government agency, the Arizona Pest Removal Information Line (For Outside Operations Listings)—or APRIL FOOL.
However, "few people got the joke," which was perpetrated by anonymous "freelance pranksters," according to the website. Many anxious people called radio and TV stations and locked themselves indoors all day.
There is a real-life "killer" bee, the aggressive African subspecies of honeybee known as Apis mellifera scutellata (pictured), which was introduced to Brazil in 1956. The insects—which have since killed at least a thousand people—deliver ten times as many stings to their victims as do European honeybees, according to Columbia University.
The African bees have since migrated as far south as Argentina and as far north as California.
(See "Honeybee Genome Sheds Light on "Killer" History, Bee Secrets.")