19 of Earth’s Most Dangerous Insects

When it comes to animals, insects are probably the least of your worries. Nonetheless, some can pose real threats to your life. Here are 19 insects you want to be careful around, including one that kills almost a million people every year.

Bulldog Ants

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Found only in Australia, the bulldog ant is the most deadly ant species on the planet. It’s known to carry peptide toxins that could cause immense pain, inflammation, blood pressure changes, heart arrhythmia, and neurotoxicity. The quick stings from bulldog ants could kill an adult within 15 minutes.

Honey Bees

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Bees work hard to make the honey you love and will do anything to protect their hive, even if it means killing themselves. A sting from a bee is very painful, but people who have allergic reactions to them are at risk of anaphylactic shock and sudden death. What’s more, bees kill more Americans than snakes and spiders, as USA Today reports.

Assassin Caterpillars

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Deemed the most dangerous caterpillar on the planet, it’s a venomous species of caterpillar with anticoagulant toxins that cause extreme skin irritation, internal bleeding, kidney failure, and even death. Thankfully, it’s barely a threat after its metamorphosis into the giant silkworm moth.

Asian Giant Hornet

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They’re called the “murder hornets” by some, and you’re advised to steer clear if you suspect you’re looking at one. Asian giant hornets have cytolytic mastoparans—tissue-damaging toxins that cause extreme pain and are said to kill over 50 people in Japan each year.

Kissing Bugs

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In less deadly scenarios, kissing bugs will cause very uncomfortable itches. However, one peck from them, and you may get infected with one of the most deadly parasites on earth. Barber bugs, as they’re also called, are known vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, a life-threatening parasite that attacks your heart muscles.

Fleas

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Today, you’re more likely to have annoying itches than life-threatening complications from flea bites. But these nasty insects were responsible for transmitting Bacillus Y. pestis, the parasite responsible for “the plague.” The bubonic plague killed an estimated 40% of the European population between 1347 and 1352.

TseTse Fly

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TseTse flies are African natives that pass on sleeping sickness, and this condition doesn’t stop at sleep disruptions and fatigue. It also causes red sores, skin rashes, lethargy, high fever, muscle aches, and convulsions. As the CDC shares, “if the disease is not treated, it can cause death.”

Cockroaches

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You probably already abhor them for being nasty, and here is reason to hate them even more. The sheddings, saliva, and fecal matter of cockroaches are known to be allergens similar to dust mites. They can trigger severe allergic reactions and even cause a life-threatening asthma attack.

Deer Tick

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Another disease-carrying parasite on our list is the deer tick, sometimes called the black-legged tick. They spread Lyme disease, an illness from ​​Borrelia bacteria that causes numbness and pain in the nerves. Lyme disease can lead to facial nerve palsy, meningitis, and heart problems.

Mosquitoes

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Mosquitoes aren’t just the most deadly insects alive; they’re also the most lethal animals on the planet. These 2.5-gram insects that can barely fly against the wind are responsible for over 700,000 deaths a year, particularly from transferring the malaria-causing parasite, plasmodium.

Fire Ants

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The New York Times reports on a woman in Georgia who died barely stepping on them, so you understand how much damage these tiny creatures can cause. Fire ants inject you with piperidine alkaloids, which attack your tissues and red blood cells, possibly leading to anaphylaxis and death.

Driver Ants

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Operating in ferocious colonies, these ants will attack snakes, birds, humans, and anything they lay their powerful jaws on. Driver ants are overwhelmingly dangerous when you can’t get away from them, and there are reports of them killing infants.

Khapra Beetles

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Native to Southeast Asia , India, and Pakistan, the Khapra beetle is regarded as the most dangerous beetle on earth. You’ll particularly want to be careful not to ingest their waste and sheddings, as these could cause gastrointestinal and skin issues. They’re also a hardy, infestive species of beetle that lasts for long periods without food and can cause damage to agricultural produce.

Blister Beetles

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Blister beetles are poisonous and not venomous, meaning they’ll only harm you when you consume them. Eat them in large numbers, and you’ll be ingesting cantharidin, a type of poison that could cause damage to the lining of your gastrointestinal and urinary tract as well as your kidney.

Locusts

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With the locusts, it’s not what they’ll do to your body that you should be afraid of—they hardly even bite humans. Now, when it comes to agricultural produce, they can cause damage on a despicably large scale. National Geographic shares that they could cause famine and starvation, and the deaths of over 100,000 Syrians and Palestinians between 1915 and 1916 are enough proof.

Bot Flies

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The bot fly won’t inject you with venom or damage your crops—it just wants to live under your skin. During the larval stage, these parasites dig their way to the deepest layer of your skin, which leads to immense pain and fluid secretions. Although they may not kill, bursting the larva when trying to take it out of your skin can cause an anaphylactic reaction.

Puss Caterpillar

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The puss caterpillar has short hair known as “toxic toupees” that injects you with what some say is the most painful toxin of asp caterpillars. Although you’re mostly limited to having rashes, in severe cases, a sting from them can cause you to experience nausea and difficulty breathing.

European Wasps

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These brightly colored wasps are known to cause immense pain and swellings that you could treat with soap, water, and an ice pack. However, their toxins can also cause allergic reactions if you’re vulnerable, and the most extreme cases may lead to life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

Paper Wasps

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Paper wasps are regarded as great insects to have in your gardens due to how they prey on plant-damaging insects. When they’re threatened, they can get really aggressive and dangerous, and like other wasps, they will inject you with toxins that could trigger life-threatening allergic reactions.

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