From a fly that can change your sleeping patterns to ants that could eat your lungs out, join us as we take a cautious peep at some insects that can kill you.
8. Africanised Honey Bees
Also known as killer bees, these flying death peddlers are a hybrid of European and African honey bees. Studies have shown that Africanised Honey Bees react to disturbances up to ten times faster than other species. They are tenacious enough to chase humans and other animals up to half a kilometre away, stinging them relentlessly. These insectoid grim reapers can take down horses, dogs and have killed up 1000 humans. Once stung, victims can experience rapid swelling around the eyes, lips and throat. Cramping often sets in as the victim has trouble breathing after which they may suffer from shock or seizure.
7. Giant Asian Hornet
Also affectionately known as the yak-killer, these massive insects are extremely dangerous. Native to temperate and tropical East Asia these are the world’s largest hornets.
If provoked, these enormous insects can inject potent venom that can cause anaphylactic shock, cardiac arrest and multiple organ failure. One researcher said the sting was like a hot nail being driven into his leg. If the stung victim is allergic to the venom it can mean almost certain death. In Japan the death toll from the Asian Giant Hornet is around 30 to 40 people per year while in the Shaanxi Province in China more than 1500 people are injured each year by these flying death dispensers.
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6. Fire Ants
These are some of the most aggressive ant species in north America. If a fire ant nest is touched or damaged hundreds of ants will attack any nearby humans or animals, stinging their victims hundreds of times.
For the average person a sting from a fire ant will be painful and cause swelling which may turn into a pustule. However, if the victim is allergic they can have severe reactions such as itching, swelling, dizziness and vomiting. Some may find their airways swell so badly that they’ll suffocate.
Though statistics vary, some report between 40 to 80 fire ant deaths per year. Conservatively about 5 percent of cases can result in death.
While mosquitoes themselves aren’t deadly they are vectors for many life threatening diseases, causing widespread health issues and economical burdens.
Infected mosquitoes can carry viruses and parasites that cause malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya just to name a few.
Malaria alone can cause phenomenal destruction. It is estimated that 3.2 billion people world-wide are at risk of malaria. In 2014 there were 198 million cases of malaria reported with 584,000 malaria deaths. 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa attributing to an estimated $12 billion dollars in lost productivity. And this is all thanks to the mosquito – harbingers of death.
On their own fleas are not deadly and at worst have an annoying bite that causes some discomfort. However, it was fleas that spread the plague which killed up to 25 million people in the Middle Ages. The ‘black plague’ is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis which is hosted primarily in rodents such as rats. Fleas act as a vector, biting the infected rodents then hopping onto a human where it may regurgitate blood into an open wound. If infected, victims may experience fever, headache and chills which may then lead to internal bleeding. Skin and other tissue may turn black, particularly fingers, toes and noses.
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Another vector bug here that has the potential to cause serious lifelong medical issues. Triatoninae, also known as kissing bugs, feed on vertebrate blood and are found mostly in north and south America. These nasty little insects are vectors for Chagas disease, a tropical parasitic disease with a host of symptoms that change over a number of years. In the early stages the disease may exhibit symptoms common to many other ailments such as a mild fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes. Because of these broad symptoms it means early detection is often difficult. If left, the disease may not show any other symptoms for 10 to 30 years after the initial infection. Those infected may then exhibit an enlarged ventricle of the heart which can lead to heart failure. It is estimated that 7 to 8 million people are infected worldwide with Chagas disease with around 12,000 people dying from the disease each year.
Also known as driver ants, these terrifying hordes are found mostly in central and east Africa. This is a tough one to report on as there is very little solid data proving human deaths but the potential for harm is all too real.
If a driver ant hill is disturbed the ants can spew forth in their millions covering any incapacitated human or animal. Studies have shown that a swarm of Dorylus ants can strip a frog, flesh from bone in a matter of hours. This is where myth and reality start to blur. Stories tell of babies or injured adults left near Dorylus nests dying not of bites but of asphyxiation. The ants swarm the body so badly that they enter any orifice they can find, crawling down the throats of victims entering the lungs where they begin shredding the soft connective tissue, choking them to death.
1. Tse Tse Fly
Also known as tik-tik flies these nasty little buggers are another insect vector that causes thousands of deaths each year. Found throughout central Africa, these large vampiric flies feast on the blood of vertebrates. With each bite comes the potential for blood infected with trypanosomes to be spread to humans, causing what’s known as African trypanosomiasis or the human sleeping sickness. Once infected, initial symptoms include fever, joint pain, itchiness and swollen lymph nodes. If left untreated the disease can enter the central nervous system and disrupt sleep cycles causing periods of daytime drowsiness and nighttime wakefulness. After periods of general weakness, individuals may exhibit signs of psychosis such as aggressive behavior and irritability. Without adequate treatment the fatality rate of African Sleeping Sickness is extremely high. It is estimated that up to 500,000 people die from the disease each year.
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