17 of the World’s Most Dangerous Insects

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By Darryl Henderson

It’s always worthwhile to know what dangerous things are lurking in the shadows. And when it comes to insects, often they’re hard to spot. Here are 17 of the world’s most dangerous insects that you’ll definitely want to watch out for (if they’re not hiding, that is).

The Bullet Ant

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The bullet ant is kind enough to give plenty of warning with its name – because the pain of its sting is likened to being shot. These particularly nasty ants are found in Central and South America. On top of the pain, their sting also contains venom which causes swelling and feverish symptoms.

The Asian Giant Hornet

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Hornets are never good news, and unfortunately, there are giant varieties of them across the world. According to the USDA, the Asian giant hornet can reach over 2 inches in length. It’s also known for its potent venom which contains neurotoxins capable of causing tissue necrosis in humans.

The Assassin Bug

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The assassin bug is so named thanks to its stealthy ways of hunting. The reason it’s so dangerous to humans is because it can transmit Chagas disease, which damages the heart and central nervous system. These bloodsucking bugs found in various American regions can also transmit a parasite through their feces.

The Kissing Bug

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Don’t let the name fool you: this bug is anything but romantic. Just like the assassin bug, the kissing bug can also transfer Chagas disease. It gets its name from its habit of biting its prey around the mouth. Being bitten by one of these bugs can be potentially fatal.

The Anopheles Mosquito

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The Anopheles mosquito is particularly dangerous because it is a carrier of the disease malaria. According to The World Health Organization, symptoms of malaria can vary from mild to life-threatening. These mosquitos transfer the parasite through their bite and remain a risk in many parts of the world.

The Deer Fly

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The deer fly is a danger to both humans and animals. These flies have an extremely painful bite and are also capable of transmitting deadly diseases. At best, the bloodsucking bite will be itchy and uncomfortable; at worst, it will be life-threatening.

The Botfly

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Botfly are amongst the more parasitic of insects, and particularly gruesome thanks to their habit of laying eggs in their hosts, both human and animal. But the horror doesn’t end there: the eggs then hatch and the larvae burrow into the skin, causing a wealth of infections and complications.

Fleas

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Fleas might not seem like the most dangerous of insects, yet certain fleas can transmit diseases to both humans and animals. It was the bite of a flea responsible for the bubonic plague, which wiped out tens of millions of people in the 14th century, reports the UNMC.

The Tsetse Fly

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Found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Tsetse fly carries parasites that can cause sleeping sickness in both humans and animals. Sleeping sickness is a dangerous disease which affects the central nervous system. If left untreated, it can result in death. Tsetse flies are known to target rural areas.

The Africanized Honey Bee

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Africanized honey bees don’t sound too dangerous – but when you discover they’re also known as Killer Bees, it makes more sense. They are a hybrid of European and African honey bees, and they have a tendency to attack in swarms. Too many stings can result in severe allergic reactions or even death.

The Army Ant

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The army ant is predominantly dangerous due to its swarming ability. They travel in large colonies, mainly in tropical regions. And while one lone ant might not be too much to worry about, a huge group of them certainly is.

Centipedes

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Most centipede species aren’t dangerous to humans, but there are some known for their venomous claws and fast speeds. In these larger, venomous species, a bite can result in severe pain, swelling, or even tissue damage. In some cases, bites can escalate to allergic reactions or more serious infections.

The Velvet Ant

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Velvet ants are actually wingless female wasps. Found worldwide, these insects carry a powerful sting that they use as an effective defense against predators, according to the National Library of Medicine. Known also as “cow killers” thanks to the agony of their sting, the good news is they only usually attack when provoked.

The Firebrat

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The firebrat is a small, wingless insect, often found in dark areas like basements and attics. These lurkers are more considered a pest than a significant threat to humans, yet they’re among the most problematic of insects thanks to their correlation with dangerous dampness and mold issues.

The Saharan Silver Ant

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Saharan silver ants are found in the desert. They can withstand temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius. Though not of particular threat to humans due to their remote surroundings, their ability to survive temperatures that could easily kill other insects makes them an impressive survivor you wouldn’t want to tangle with.

The Yellow Fever Mosquito

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This particular mosquito is responsible for carrying the disease Yellow Fever, as the name suggests. They’re usually active in tropical and subtropical regions across the world. They’re also known for their aggressive behavior and – worse – they’re active during the daytime when humans are most at risk.

The Assassin Caterpillar

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Last but not least of the insects you should avoid, the assassin caterpillar is a master of disguise. Their bodies are equipped with spines or hairs which are capable of injecting venom. Humans can suffer severe allergic reactions if caught by these hairs, which is easily done when the caterpillar looks like a leaf!