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Jan 27 2016

9 Deadliest Insects On Earth

From the most dangerous ants in the world to scary hidden bugs that will bite you and disappear leaving you with a death sentence, these are 9 of the most deadly bugs on the planet.

#9 – Bullet Ant

bullet

 Infesting the rainforests of South America is the largest of all species of ant – the bullet ant. Up to an inch long, these bugs got their name because the pain of their bite supposedly hurts about as badly as being shot by a bullet. Bullet ants are one of only 3 species in the world (the other two are both types of wasp) to score a maximum rating on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index – a system designed to categorize different types of sting according to how painful they are. What makes things worse is that these ants typically attack with no warning by falling out of a tree onto their prey. Even worse than that is that they emit a really frightening shriek as they do so – yes, these ants literally howl their own personal battle cry.

#8 – Bot Fly

botfly

Bot flies affect hundreds of different species of mammals; basically, they are internal parasites that survive by burrowing into their hosts and feasting off their flesh. No matter what type of animal they infect, the end result is a big, fat, half-inch long maggot-like creature embedded into living tissue. They infect humans by laying their eggs on mosquitos, horseflies, or other carriers likely to come into contact with people. When this contact occurs, the eggs rub off onto the person’s skin, and are incubated by their natural body heat. Once hatched, they burrow into your skin and begin feeding. Bot flies have ended up inside people’s tear ducts, ear canals, and even directly in their brains – and to make this even creepier, patients report they are able to feel the movement of bot fly larvae beneath their skin.

#7 – Japanese/Asian Giant Hornet

bee

While only responsible for a mere 50 deaths per year, a paltry body count compared to some of our champions, this insect definitely is one of the deadliest on Earth. Growing up to three inches long – about the size of your thumb – this wasp boasts an incredible flesh-melting toxin containing no less than 8 individual poisons. It aims this toxin at the eyes of its targets and, like all wasps, can sting as many times as it cares to. Two dozen of these warriors can easily slay an entire hive of honey bees – that’s 20 wasps versus 20-30k bees, and the wasps win every time. As if all this wasn’t enough, this breed of wasps is really attracted to chemicals present in human sweat, and don’t think you can outrun them either – they fly more than 50 miles per day at top speed without tiring.

#6 – The Driver Ant

ouch ant

There is nothing inherently terrifying about the driver ant; it isn’t huge, it doesn’t have mandibles half the size of its body, and the only poison it has is mild formic acid used to gradually dissolve organic material. So what makes these ants so scary? The fact that their colonies are monstrously huge – often 20 million strong or more, stretching for miles. Driver ant colonies are so big that small children and the elderly are at risk of being literally asphyxiated to death by the swarm. Driver ant colonies are so big that they can completely strip every scrap of organic material from the body of an adult human in less than 4 hours. Even elephants run away from these deadly insects if caught in their path; thousands of animals fall victim to these bugs each time a swarm of driver ants leaves its nest.

#5 – Kissing Bug

i hate bugs

So-called “kissing” bugs got their name from their distinctive mouthparts which resemble tiny tubes designed to suck on things. Most of this species feeds on plant sap, but other species feed on blood instead – the ones that feed on humans are notorious for biting people on their lips while asleep in fact. About an inch long, these bugs look and act like giant ticks. The reason they appear on this list is that they are primarily responsible for spreading a condition called Chagas’ disease through their feeding – a condition responsible for killing 10-15k people annually, and unlike most diseases has unfortunately been trending upwards in recent years. This insidious condition can present no initial symptoms at all, only to have horrible chronic problems such as heart disease and intestinal deformation occur up to thirty years after the initial infection.

#4 – The Tsetse Fly

fly

You have probably heard of the Tsetse fly before, but not by name; you’re much more likely to be familiar with the so called “sleeping sickness” caused by its bite, which has been featured to great comedic effect in films, television, and in books. The reality of this disease is a lot less amusing; left untreated, the condition is invariably fatal to humans. For decades, sleeping sickness was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths on an annual basis – sometimes as many as 300,000-400,000 deaths per year. Thankfully, we’ve made huge strides this century in treating and diagnosing the condition; in 2009 the world fell below 10,000 reported cases in a calendar year for the first time in almost a century. Despite these impressive improvements, approximately 70 million people still remain at risk for infection on an annual basis – a significant chunk of the Earth’s population.

#3 – The Flea

flea

At one point in time, a strong case could have been made for the flea to occupy the top spot on this list. In the 14th century, the Black Plague ravaged Europe, and was responsible for up to 200 million deaths over the next several centuries until it died out in the 1600s – about one-third of the populace fell victim to this disease, which was spread throughout Europe by the fleas present on the backs of the rats which infested every city, village, and town dotting the countryside. While today they are more of a nuisance than anything else, the legacy of the Black Plague seemed like more than enough to secure them a spot in the top 3.

#2 – The Locust

locust

The world’s second deadliest insect has no capacity to directly harm a human in any way. So how can locusts possibly be considered deadly? The phrase “collateral damage” comes to mind. A locust swarm can consist of up to 80 million individual insects, and cover an area of almost 500 square miles in diameter. Within the affected area, over 400 million pounds of edible crops are destroyed each day as every insect eats its own weight in grain and plant material. To put this in perspective, a subsistence diet capable of sustaining a human life for a year requires about 500 pounds of grain. Locusts are partially responsible for famines which affect the lives of millions of people on an annual basis, making them extremely deadly, if in a slightly roundabout fashion; some historians credit the great Locust Plague of 1915 as one of the primary causes of the downfall of the Ottoman Empire.

#1 – The Humble Mosquito

mosquito drinks blood out of man

Believe it or not, the world’s deadliest insect happens to be one of the most common ones as well. In fact, this insect is so common that you’ve likely personally encountered them thousands of times before; you can find them anywhere on Earth except Antarctica. So what is it? The mosquito. These insects aren’t dangerous because of any bite, poison, or sting, but rather because of the diseases they carry and spread. To illustrate this, take a look at malaria – just one of many diseases mosquitos carry. Despite the availability of modern medical treatment, this incurable disease still claims 1 million lives per year, and infects between 300-500 million more people. No other insect can lay claim to anything approaching that level of carnage, making the mosquito the undisputed deadliest insect on Earth.