Dangerous Bugs And What To Do If They Attack You
There are loads of dangerous bugs and insects in the world. From the most painful bees to wasps and hornets with painful venom, don't mess with these bugs!Animals
Our world is littered with massive, terrifying creatures who seem hell-bent on injuring us. But, have you ever stopped to think how many tiny insects, bugs, and ants are lurking nearby, just waiting to inflict unbelievable pain on us?
Some bites and stings are so incredibly painful, in fact, that the brave and bonkers Dr. Justin Schmidt actually allowed the most feared bees, wasps, hornets, and ants to sting him so he could help us rank their pain score in his insect sting pain index.
From killer bees who’ll chase you down the street, to giant, vicious hornets, let's explore some of the most dangerous bugs and what to do if they attack you.
15. Deer Tick
First up is the deer tick, which despite its cute-sounding name, infects thousands of people in the U.S with Lyme disease every year. Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted through its bite, and symptoms can appear as long as 30 days after the incident.
Early symptoms include a bullseye-type rash, severe headaches, neck stiffness, and intense joint pain. If you’re diagnosed with Lyme disease, antibiotics can be used to treat the early stages. Sadly though, 10% of people who contract Lyme disease don’t get better for at least 6 months.
The Lone Star tick is another vile little critter whose bite may change your life, but in a way you may never expect: it makes you allergic to red meat.
In fact, it's a carbohydrate called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal, that you become allergic to, but it's found in red meat. There’s no cure but antihistamines can help sufferers enjoy the occasional hamburger in some cases.
If you even get bitten by a tick, the worst thing you can do is try to pull it out with your fingers. Since they’re still attached to you, this may squeeze disease-causing organisms into your bloodstream.
Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull it out with steady, even pressure. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
It's even worth saving the tick so you can pass it on to your doctor for analysis. Sometimes they’ll prescribe a preventive dose of antibiotics if you’re at high risk for Lyme disease.
14. Fire Ant
These stinging ants are as awful as they sound, and a bite will make you feel as though your skin is actually on fire. Initial pain will usually be followed by a bad case of the hives, and as if that wasn’t unattractive enough those hives will then give way to big, ugly, red bumps. And to make matters worse, they’re said to be taking over Southern U.S.
Some people are allergic to fire ants venom and if that’s you then you can look forward to anaphylaxis which will need to be treated with adrenaline to stave off death. If you’re not though, antihistamines and anti-itch relief creams will do the job.
13. Kissing Bugs
Don’t be fooled by this romantic-sounding critter, it’s actually called the kissing bug because it prefers to bite humans around the mouth and the eyes. They defecate once they’re done biting, and the victim unwittingly scratches the area and helps the parasite get into the bloodstream.
The bite isn’t painful and you might not even realize that it happened, but these gross little creatures transmit a parasite which causes Chagas disease which can be fatal if treatment isn’t administered. If you’re found to have Chagas disease you can take Benznidazole or Nifurtimox, but be warned: both are difficult to get access to in the U.S. Good luck with that.
Fleas are gross and are usually associated with animals, but they’re actually super dangerous to humans and can spread fatal diseases such as the actual bubonic plague. It’s unlikely that you’ll contract the plague from a flea bite, but if you do get it you’ll notice your lymph nodes swelling up and your body’s tissue dying.
If left untreated the mortality rate of the bubonic plague is between 40% and 60%, but taking antibiotics in the first 24 hours brings this down to between 1% and 15%. If you’ve been bitten by fleas but don’t have the plague, there’s nothing more than itching to worry about and anti-itch creams are all you really need to treat a bite.
11. Maricopa Harvester Ant
There’s definitely a lot more than just itching to worry about if you get bitten by a Maricopa harvest ant. They’re thought to have the most toxic insect venom in the world.
Found in the U.S and Mexico, these terrifying things are 20 times more toxic than honey bees and the pain from a sting can last up to four hours. And these brutes don’t tend to just sting once. They like to attach themselves to humans with their mandibles so they can repeatedly inject venom into their victims.
If you think you’ve been stung and you’re a healthy adult, just clean the area and find something to bite down on until the pain subsides. Children and the elderly should seek medical attention immediately, though.
10. Japanese Giant Hornet
The Japanese Giant Hornet is the world’s largest of its kind and is incredibly aggressive. These monsters are a subspecies of the Asian giant hornet, and they often grow larger than 4 centimeters or 1.6 inches long.
These guys don’t just look scary, they actually do kill people. Between 30 and 40 Japanese residents lose their lives every year due to reactions to their venom.
If you only get stung once and don’t have a reaction you don’t need to do much, but if you’ve received more than ten stings you need to seek medical attention. If it’s over 30 it’s classed as a medical emergency.
9 . Bulldog Ant
Australia is full of creatures just waiting for their opportunity to kill you, and given half the chance the Bulldog Ant will happily take you down. A sting from a Bulldog Ant will feel pretty miserable and you’ll definitely know about it if you accidentally disturb one.
Anaphylaxis is the main risk with bulldog ant stings, and they’ve been implicated in multiple deaths in Oz. If you’re not allergic, an ice pack will help soothe the area of the sting. The main issue with these stingers though is that they tend to work in teams.
Each bulldog ant nest contains around 2,000 ants, and they’re all capable of stinging more than once, so disturbing one can be fatal.
If you’re eating you might want to stop for a minute as this is truly disgusting. Botflies are parasitic organisms and they just love to lay their eggs in mammals like us humans.
If you’ve been unlucky enough to become a host to these vile critters, you’ll need the help of a medical professional to remove them. They’ll do this by suffocating the larva via the opening in your skin that it’s using to breathe, and then 24 to 48 hours later it can be expelled by applying pressure around the cavity.
In some instances though, surgery will be necessary to remove larger larvae.
7. Metricus Paper Wasp
Paper wasps get their name from the paper-like material that they use to build their nests. There are hundreds of species around the world and although they might not be as aggressive as yellow jackets or hornets, if you make the mistake of threatening their nest you’ll most likely find yourself on the receiving end of their brutal sting.
If you’re not allergic to their stings you don’t have anything to worry about, but as the poor woman below found out, people can have terrible reactions to encounters with paper wasps!
6. Killer Bees
They’re actually called Africanized bees because they were originally created by cross-breeding different bees in an effort to increase honey production in Brazil. But, in a horror movie-esque twist, 26 swarms escaped quarantine and have since spread through South and North America.
Killer bees earned their scary name through their reputation of murdering over 1,000 people to date. These guys will happily chase you for up to 400 meters to get their sting in you, and if you have a bee allergy you might not live to tell the tale. If not, don’t worry, their sting is nothing that some ice and anti-sting cream can’t fix.
5. Tarantula Hawk Wasp
The giant tarantula hawk wasp doesn’t just sound terrifying: it is terrifying. It’s joint with another insect as the most painful sting in the world, but the pain only lasts three minutes so it is technically less awful.
You’ll be completely incapacitated for that time though, so the general medical advice is just to “drop to the floor and scream” because trying to do anything else could result in further injury.
Scarily, the number of tarantula hawk wasps is increasing in the southwestern U.S, but the good news is that they tend to be more interested in attacking tarantulas than the likes of you and me.
4. Warrior Wasp
These pain-inflicting monsters are officially called Synoecas, but they’re so badass that they’re more widely known as warrior wasps. These flying nightmares are found in the tropical forests of the Americas and are renowned for their aggressive behavior.
How does it feel to be stung by one of these insects, you ask? Well, Justin Schmidt, author of the Schmidt sting pain index which I mentioned earlier, described it as “Torture. You are chained to the flow of an active volcano”. If you do get stung you can apply antihistamine cream but other than that you’ll just have to grin and bear the pain.
3. Bullet Ant
Deep in the Amazon, bullet ants are used for a brutal and grueling initiation process. Boys as young as 12 must spend at least ten minutes with their hands inside specially made gloves which contain dozens of angry bullet ants.
Each attack from a bullet ant is said to be 30 times worse than a bee sting, and as their venom surges through the young men’s bodies it attacks their nervous system leaving them writhing in pain.
For a young man to be declared a true warrior, he must wear the gloves an unbelievable 20 times. And even when the gloves are removed the boys continue to be in agonizing pain. Their hands are often paralyzed for up to 24 hours, but according to their chief, the boys can’t expect to become strong men without experiencing suffering.
If you’re not part of an Amazonian tribe and have the incredible bad luck of being stung by a bullet ant, applying a cold compress to the area and taking antihistamines can help. But who are we kidding: nothing is going to make a bullet ant bite feel better.
2. Tsetse Flies
Africa is home to lots of giant and deadly animals, but one of the scariest is the tiny Tsetse fly. It’s the deadliest biting insect native to the continent, and you probably haven’t even heard of it until now, but it’s said to be responsible for the loss of around half a million lives.
Tsetse flies carry a parasite that causes sleeping sickness which causes symptoms such as headaches and fever.
This illness leads to thousands of deaths each year, so if you think you’ve been bitten get a blood test as soon as possible. If you’re found to have the illness, antitrypanosomal medication will be prescribed.
It probably comes as no surprise that mosquitoes top this list of dangerous bugs. They may not look as frightening as some of the other entries, but they’re responsible for more than 600,000 deaths per year and account for 17% of global infectious diseases.
Most people are allergic to the saliva that female mosquitoes inject into our skin when they suck out our blood, which is why we end up with red and itchy marks.
This is certainly annoying, but not as annoying as deadly malaria, which these awful little creatures are capable of spreading. Malaria presents with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and nausea, and if anti-malarial drugs are started straight away the disease is usually treatable.
Sadly, many people in the sub-tropical areas of the world that malaria ravages don’t have access to these drugs, which is why the fatality rate is so scarily high.
I hope you managed to get through this without becoming too frightened to ever go outside again. Thanks for reading.