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They might be small, but they sure are dangerous. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the "Top 10 Most DEADLY Insects."
For this list, we’ll be looking at creepy crawlers from around the world to bring you the most dangerous insects this planet has to offer. To be considered, these insects need to pose a serious threat to humans or animals. Sorry spider-lovers, but arachnids will NOT be considered. Same goes for scorpions, as neither are technically insects.
Warning: This video contains some graphic images.
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#10: Puss Caterpillar
Caterpillars. They’re not exactly threatening, are they? Playfully referred to as the “toxic toupee” by National Geographic, this caterpillar looks like a simple ball of fur. If we told you it was new type of micro dog, you’d be all over it. Then you’d quickly become overwhelmed with mind-numbing pain, because underneath all of that inviting hair... hides highly toxic spines. In recent years, they’ve become a real problem in the southern United States. Though there have been no documented deaths to date, the possibility is there. According to the medical director of Cedar Park Emergency Center in Austin, Texas, there’s a real risk of fatal anaphylaxis. If labored breathing occurs, go straight to the ER.
Though typically depicted as little more than a nuisance with a propensity for targeting our canine companions, fleas can actually claim the lives of our four-legged friends. One recently attached flea is easily dispatched, but when they congregate in numbers and are left unchecked, they can wreak havoc on the health of cats and dogs. In the rescue community, it’s not uncommon to find dogs who are critically anemic as a result of an untreated flea infestation. Puppies are particularly susceptible. In certain cases, they can also transmit diseases to humans via a bite, including murine typhus, mycoplasma haemofelis, or the bubonic plague.
Most people avoid wasps for fear of getting stung, but in reality, they are, for the most part, a rather non-aggressive species of insect. That being said, if you get too close to their nest, you could be in for a world of pain. In the event that you’re swarmed by wasps and receive numerous stings, there’s a chance that you could experience rhabdomyolysis—a potentially fatal condition which involves the rapid deterioration of skeletal muscle. Thankfully, such cases are very rare. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for allergies, which can prove fatal and can develop at any point during your life.
#7: The Assassin Caterpillar
Again, caterpillars aren’t exactly the first insects that come to mind when you think of the word “deadly,” but with the qualifying title of “assassin” in their name, you better believe that these moths-to-be mean business. During its larval stage as a caterpillar, this killer, known by the scientific name Lonomia obliqua, boasts a defense mechanism in the form of venomous bristles. These can easily break through human flesh upon contact to deliver a strong dose of anti-clotting agent. Found in South America, the assassin caterpillar has claimed numerous lives—with its victims dying from widespread internal bleeding.
#6: Killer Bees (Africanized Honey Bees)
For well over a decade, there have been half-baked doomsday type reports warning about Africanized killer bees coming to North America en masse to wreak havoc and bring about some sort of insect apocalypse. Under all that exaggeration, there’s also some truth—Africanized honey bees are indeed much more dangerous than your garden variety. This hybrid species, first introduced in Brazil, has spread into the southern United States, and they are significantly more aggressive than other varieties. They’ve claimed over 1000 lives and are known to pursue individuals they deem to be a threat for up to a quarter mile. So yeah… best to give them a wide berth.
Gesundheit! Also known as Dorylus or driver ants, the siafu gained a certain amount of notoriety when they made an appearance in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Their moment in the spotlight? Eating a grown man alive. Now… while this is a gross exaggeration of their eating habits, these ants are indeed powerful and ravenous, and, when the colony goes marching in numbers up to 50 million strong, they can consume pretty much anything in their path. Though some entomologists remain skeptical, it’s been reported that driver ants have severely injured or even killed elderly individuals and infants.
#4: Japanese Giant Hornet
Most people are afraid of run-of-the-mill hornets, but one that can measure up to nearly two inches in length? That’s something right out of a horror movie. Sadly… the Japanese giant hornet is not a work of a fiction, but an all-too-real flying insect that claims dozens of lives each and every year in Japan. Amongst their fellow insects they’re masters of genocide, targeting beehives and tearing them apart. The Terminator of the hornet species, a single one of these behemoths can kill 40 bees per minute. But back to the human threat they pose. Because of their size and the potency of their venom, even in individuals without allergies, a sting can prove fatal.
#3: Kissing Bug
What a horribly misleading name! They might be willing to pucker up, but much like Nosferatu, these critters, who are also known as “vampire bugs,” are more interested in your blood than your affections. Unlike other bloodsucking bugs, however, these creeps are known to have a particularly taste for the human face and lips, which is how they got their name. After they’ve had their fill of your blood, they might just leave behind a souvenir, and we’re not talking about herpes. The Kissing Bug can transmit the Chagas disease parasite. Their bite can also result in anaphylactic shock. All together, kissing bugs claim roughly 11 thousand lives each year.
#2: Tsetse Flies
You’ve likely heard of this fly before. Though flies are pests wherever they’re found, few species have brought about actual pain and suffering in human populations like these nasty insects. Found throughout much of tropical Africa, these oversized bloodsucking flies cause sleeping sickness in humans, a condition, which, if left untreated, consistently proves fatal. Due to the areas of the world in which it occurs and its tendency to hit impoverished populations with limited access to medical treatment, the exact yearly death toll is hard to figure out. However, it’s been estimated that it’s anywhere between 50,000 and half a million victims per year.
An annoyance to some, a death sentence to others. These little bloodsuckers can ruin a camping trip just about anywhere in the world. But depending on the region, a bite from one of these bugs can result in consequences far more problematic than an unpleasant itch. Mosquitoes transmit dengue fever, chikungunya, zika virus and malaria. Because of their role in the spread of various potentially fatal diseases, one could argue that they’re not just the deadliest insect, but the most dangerous animal on the planet. When you add it all up, mosquitos likely cause 725,000 deaths every year.