They’re small, but it doesn’t mean they’re not intimidating. In fact, these insects are dangerous, especially when they swarm in large groups, that they even have a fair share of human deaths all over the world. Some insects’ bites send humans into their immediate deaths, while others cause diseases that will seriously make them sick or disabled… or worse, eventually kill them. Other diseases are indirectly caused by some of the insects in this list.
Here are some of the deadliest insects on earth:
Cockroaches are perhaps the insects that we’re programmed to feel fear and/or disgust. And knowing how much harm they can do will even make us fear them more. We know that cockroaches are disgusting, but little are we aware that cockroaches can be really dangerous.
Cockroaches carry 33 types of bacteria, and those include the E. coli and Salmonella, six kinds of parasitic insects (mostly worms) and seven pathogens. Not to mention that they are hardy insects. Compared to other insects, cockroaches have amazing armors that they need to survive. They can go on for 45 without breathing, can live on the glue on the postage stamp, and can survive without food for a month. And the worst part of it all, is that they can nibble your kids’ body parts: the hair, the eyelashes, eyebrows and toenails.
Bed bugs are usually seen as a petty annoyance we can get behind our mattresses, especially if they’ve never been cleaned for ages. Even though they are little insects, bed bugs are otherwise a huge problem. Since they’re small creatures, they are hard to detect and sometimes their bites can be likened to those of mosquitoes.
Although bed bugs are commonly associated with dirt and squalor, even the most clean bedsheets in your hotel room can also be an attraction to these tiny blood-suckers. This is the scariest thing about bedbugs: An army of them can attack a human being 500 times in a night. So sleep tight…
Although termites are not really vicious human killers in the sense of the word, they otherwise play a crucial role in the environment and even the diets in other cultures. Aside from destroying the framework of our homes and other infrastructure, termites also have the potential to damage farm crops.
There is a question though: do termites spread diseases? Well, they’re not really known for causing diseases directly like mosquitoes do, but nevertheless they also undermine your health as well as your safety. Termites prefer to live in dark and damp environments, which also make the breeding ground for molds. Constant exposure to molds can cause various types of diseases such as fungal infections, skin diseases, dermatitis, eye infection, violent itching and mycotoxin toxicity, and aspergilloma.
Army ants are dangerous in every sense of the word. Army ants have an inborn aggressive, ravenous streak, and they are savage as they can be. Unlike other types of ants, army ants do not construct permanent nests. These raids of restless foragers are more than just like nomads — they are always on the move every day and attack their victims that go their way. Their powerful, highly modified mandibles are designed to rip their prey’s bodies into pieces. They can kill and consume their prey six times their size.
Since army ants are blind, they identify each other by scent, and detect a potential victim through their movements. So the best thing a would-be victim should do with a swarm of army ants around them? Simply standing still or pretend to be dead.
Although there are no confirmed stories about humans deaths caused by army ants so far – don’t take a chance!
Just even looking at them buzzing around is enough to make our hairs stand on end. These wasps also include yellow jackets and hornets. But fear not — wasps don’t have the appetite to attack humans unless they or their nests are threatened or disturbed. However, a sting from a single wasp causes can severe allergies, anaphylactic shock and even death if not treated immediately.
There are also flies that bite — and their bites are dangerous and even deadly. The tsese (tzetze or tik-tik) fly are the main carriers of African trypanosomiasis, popularly known as “sleeping sickness.” These large flies, native to mid-continental Africa, resemble the houseflies. Except that the wings fold one on top of the other when the fly is at rest, as well as its long proboscis.
The germs these flies carry cause sleeping sickness. When an infected fly bites a human being, the infection spread through the blood. Symptoms include fever, headache, general weakness, anxiety and confusion, sweating, swollen lymph nodes all over the body, daytime sleepiness (which may be uncontrollable), and insomnia at night. Without treatment, the person who is having sleeping sickness will experience mental deterioration (as the disease also leads to the swelling of the brain), coma and finally, death.
As of 2010 sleeping sickness causes 9,000 deaths per year, and about 70 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of this disease.
The Anopeheles mosquito is an insect which causes one of the deadliest diseases in the world: malaria. Actually, it’s the female Anopheles mosquito that sucks human blood for the development of her eggs, while the male contents himself on nectar and juices of some plants.
After a full blood meal, the female mosquito will take a few days’ rest until the eggs are fully developed. Once it’s done, the female will go back to hunt for her next blood meal.
As of 2013, there are 198 million cases of malaria all over the world, according to the World Health Organization — and up to an estimated 855,000 deaths have been confirmed, the majority coming from Africa.
The solutions are simple to prevent this deadly disease: keep your environment clean and protect yourself. They may sound like a trite suggestion, but they’re the only effective ways to prevent the breeding of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Lice can be difficult and annoying to get rid of. As parasites, they suck blood which causes very itchy skin. And apart from the itch, lice can also transmit microbial diseases. These include infectious and life-threatening ones such as typhus and many types of fever.
Many believe having lice means you may be unclean or sloppy. It can be true but not always true. A clean person can easily get lice from close contact from another person who has them, especially if it’s head lice.
Locusts come from the family of grasshoppers. While one locust is not that deadly or even dangerous to humans, a swarm of hundreds and thousands of them can spell a major disaster.
Locusts swarms devastate crops, causing great agricultural damage which will lead to famine and starvation in humans and threat to their economic livelihood. That’s why there’s a phrase “locust years” which means periods of economic distress.
The giant Japanese or Asian hornet is a frighteningly large wasp. It can grow up to 3 inches in length when full-grown. Its sting is allergic and can even be lethal because of the toxins in it. The sting is extremely painful, and can also eat away at your tissue. So it’s better to leave this insect alone — it can sting at you repeatedly if its really aggrivated.
Because of an experiment gone wrong during the 1950s, Africanized honey bees escaped the lab… and they grew rapidly and in monstrous numbers. Many people have contracted serious and life-threatening allergies from their venomous bee stings. Many also suffer anaphylactic shock, even death. Even casually disturbing them can provoke these killer bees to become really aggressive and form in large numbers swarming all over a person. In 2014, one Arizona man was killed by 800,000 hostile bees after he poked at their nest. There are thousands of bee-related deaths every year.
So the best way not to get stung? Simply leave these bees alone and in peace.
Kissing bugs belong to the order Hemiptera, where cicadas, aphids, as well as true bugs also belong. So what makes the kissing bugs especially deadly compared to their plant-sucking relatives? The kissing bugs are blood-sucking parasites and carriers of the “Chagas disease” that is common in much of Latin America.
Symptoms may vary over the duration of this chronic disease. From a simple local swelling caused by the kissing bug’s bite, the disease can continue up to 10 to 30 years after the initial infection. The severe symptoms include damaged heart muscles and malformed intestines. If left untreated, the Chagas disease can be fatal.
Fire ants build their nests in the soil, and tend to feed on plants and some other insects — typical ants thing. But when provoked, fire ants turn savage and attack with stings that are very painful and cause a burning sensation. The fire ants’ sting has venom which produces allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Smaller stings are easily treated; however, when a large army of ants swarm over, bigger problems lie ahead.
Apart from causing about 30 deaths per year, fire ants also do extensive damage to farm crops, making them serious pests.
A yellow jacket — especially the female ones — are capable of stinging. Another kind of wasp, it produces one of the most excruciatingly painful stings on earth. It’s because apart from the venom, a yellow jacket’s stinger also have barbs in it. Like many other similar insects when provoked, yellow jackets will form a huge army and swarm over their victim.
Just in the past couple years, two men died in separate locations — a 47-year old in Florida and a 61-year-old in Arkansas — from the same cause: stings from hundreds of yellow jackets that swarmed over them.