Science - Nature
By: - at May 17, 2013

15 Exotic Insects That Are Harmful & Deadly to Humans

Exotic insectInsects have been the stuff of nightmares for centuries. They are both terrifying and incredible, capable of great feats of strength and carnage. A few insects have earned well deserved reputations for terror such as the killer bees and fire ants. Others, like the cockroach, are not generally so horrible on their own but have gained reputations for filth and disease. Many fall into the category of being harmless. And while most of us wouldn't hesitate to step on a bug or use spray to get it out of the house, most of the time it's not because we think that it's dangerous but just because it's dirty. However, nature is full of plenty of surprises, and strange insects that can do a lot of harm are quite numerous. Just because you don't know about it doesn't mean it isn't weird and dangerous or that you aren't at risk from some of nature's greatest terrors.

15)  Tongue Eating Sea Louse
The tongue eating sea louse is one of the more horrifying insects. Most parasites simply feed off the host's body parts. However, this gruesome little insect does far more than that. It attaches itself to the tongue and then begins drinking the blood. As it drinks the blood, the tongue begins to wither. The louse swells in size until it devours the tongue entirely. For quite some time, the host can survive, using the louse as it would a tongue.

By Marco Vinci via Wikimedia Commons

The louse only begins procreation after it has consumed the tongue fully. At this point, it is approximately the size of the host's tongue. This means that the individual sea louse varies in size based on the host. The larger the louse becomes, the more dangerous it is. The louse draws more and more heavily on the host, draining greater quantities of blood, mucus, and tissue. Eventually, it reaches the primary blood vessels and arteries.

The cause of death from the tongue eating sea louse stems from the loss of blood or the onset of infection. Both of these take quite some time to manifest. The louse can only be removed if it is caught within the early stages of its attachment. Otherwise, the entire tongue must be removed to severe all of the connecting muscle fibers and tissues.

14)  Loa Loa
In the United States, most people have not had to deal with the loa loa. The loa loa, however, is greatly feared in west and central Africa. Loosely translated, the name means "eye eating worm." The incubation process is exceptionally painful and often leads to death. For many years, those who suffered from the loa loas were believed to be under a curse. This belief was only encouraged since the loa loa can be seen wriggling within the eye and pressing up against the iris and pupil.

Loa Loa

The loa loa is the larvae of the nematode worm. It is transmitted through the bites of deer flies and mango flies. The bite can occur anywhere. Once the eggs are laid, the initial incubation process begins. No symptoms are present at that time except for minor itching. When the worms hatch, they begin to make their way to the victim's head. They then take up residency in the eyes and bridge of the nose until they are ready to emerge. The rupturing may cause blindness, and the worm frequently moves across the eye. This is agonizing and can last for more than 15 minutes at a time.

With modern medicine, the loa loa is easily removed. However, it must be caught quickly to reduce as much damage as possible. The loa loa thrives in human hosts, and the deer and mango flies actively seek out human hosts. The elderly are the most at risk.

13)  Zombie Wasp
Insects are quite resourceful when it comes to providing for their plentiful young. It's incredibly terrifying to consider how they do this. The zombie wasp is one such horrifying insect, and its clever and resourceful patterns are what allows it to thrive.

The mother wasp seeks out cockroaches as her primary prey. She then stings the roach directly in the brain. At this point, if she has done it properly, she disables the cockroach's reflexes and ability to escape. She then actually leads the roach down into the nest. Once there, she lays an egg on the roach's belly and seals it in. The larva hatches soon afterward, sometimes within minutes. The larva then burrows into the roach and incubates itself within the host roach, eating its tissues until the wasp is ready to emerge.

Zombie Wasp on roach

Most of the time, zombie wasps do not have a problem finding a host roach. However, in some cases, it may choose a human host. This generally only happens at night or when a person is napping. While the person naps, the zombie wasp lays the egg. If the wasp larva hatches, it will burrow into the person. While this is rare, it is quite painful, and it needs immediate removal.

12)  Little Dragon Flea
Dracunculus or Guinea worm or Little Dragon FleaThe little dragon flea (also called Dracunculus or Guinea worm) gained its reputation from the horrible pain its victims suffer. It is transmitted through dirty water that has been exposed to general water flea species. Once inside the body, the fleas are digested and die. However, the larvae remain ingested and attach themselves to the insides of the intestines. The larvae then hatch and move down into the feet and ankles.

One of the biggest problems with the little dragon flea is that at least one female will become a large worm like creature within the foot. It nourishes the other smaller ones until they are ready to seek out a new host. The female is the largest, and she is the one that must be removed before crippling sets in. The little dragon flea or the dragon worm as the larger female larva is called, attaches itself to the tendons in the foot. It devours the inner tissues. Once it attaches, the victim experiences excruciating pain and boil formation over the foot and ankle. The mature dragon fleas escape through these sores but the female remains and continues to open up pockets of infection and wounds.

The larger female larvae cannot be removed through medication and there is no vaccine against it. Most of the time, the female must be removed through surgery. A common folk remedy, however, involves slicing into the foot at the point near the worm. This is often indicated by a bold white or yellow line arched across the foot. The worm's tail or middle is then caught and wrapped around a stick. Then she is gradually pulled out.

11)  Mind Control Beetle
The mind control beetle is a tiny insect that attacks rodents most of the time. When it finds a suitable host, it attacks the rodent, biting it and planting its eggs in the rodent's skin. The venom in the bite includes toxoplasma, one of the more powerful natural forming brain washing chemicals. The result of this venom is that the rodent is not afraid of cats then. The cat then eats the infected rodent and carries the beetle's larvae around. The larvae develop inside the cat's intestines and are then deposited in the cat feces where they then go on to continue the cycle.

Mind Control Beetle

Most of the time, the mind control beetle's venom affects only rodents. However, people who are stung by the mind control beetle or who are exposed to its venom have sometimes gone crazy. It can also cause birth defects. This is why women must avoid cat feces. It is not because of the cat but because of the larvae that may be in the cat feces. These larvae then bite the human and transmit the toxoplasma. Strangely though, cats remain unaffected by the venom.

10)  Tarantula Hawk
The tarantula hawk gained its name from the fact that it is one of the tarantula's most perpetual hunters. It tracks tarantulas and attacks then, laying eggs on the incapacitated tarantula. It is one of the most beautiful wasps in the world. It is also number two on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Generally speaking, the tarantula hawk is not an aggressive wasp like its cousins. However, they do have very large stingers, and their legs are hooked. As such, it has very few natural predators with the exception of the roadrunner.

Tarantula Hawk

Surprisingly though, the tarantula hawk is the official insect for the state of New Mexico. For people who are generally allergic to bees and wasps, the tarantula hawk is particularly dangerous because of its potency. Generally, the pain from a sting lasts for three minutes. Most people hurt themselves further trying to stop the pain. Tourists are warned against going near the tarantula hawk because of the power of its sting. They are warned also that a sting causes an entire shut down of all rational and logical functions and victims generally flail and scream until the pain subsides. In doing this, they may hurt themselves and others. Some people have even gone so far as to stick pencils into the sting to change the pain as the severity does not change for three minutes.

9)  Bullet Ant
While the tarantula hawk has a reputation for having an excruciating sting, the bullet ant is the actual prize winner. In documenting most venomous and painful stings, National Geographic placed the bullet ant at the top of the list. Each ant is at least an inch long. The hive rests up in the trees, unlike most ants who live in nests in the ground. However, what makes this so chilling is that bullet ants shriek before attacking and biting. They will drop multiple feet onto victims and passersby who get too close to the hive.

Bullet Ant

Both National Geographic and the authors of Initiation Rituals of the World have documented the bullet ants unusual role in South American male rites of passage. A young man is ready to become a man when he wears leaf sleeves with hundreds of ants inside. The ants are arranged strategically for the greatest amount of pain. The young man must wear these sleeves for as long as possible, all the while being stung by these ants. The venom is not as toxic as other ants, but it is excruciating and can cause infections later if the stings are left untreated or too many are received. The pain is horrific. Its side effects include trembling, perspiration, and throbbing. In some cases, temporary paralysis may ensue. On the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, the bullet ant is No. 1 in the world.

8)  Death Stalker
With a name like Death Stalker, it's no surprise that this scorpion is deadly. In fact, it is one of the deadliest scorpions in the world, despite the fact that it is one of the lesser known ones. Its venom has a high concentration of powerful neurotoxins.

Death Stalker

Most of the time, it will not kill a normal healthy adult if he receives treatment soon after, the sting is generally fatal to small children and the elderly. However, it can be quite hard to find the death stalker and to research it as it is generally a shyer scorpion. It's also often mistaken for more common scorpion species.

Scorpion Venom peptide chlorotoxinSurprisingly though, many researchers and cancer research teams are cultivating this insect. One of the key components of the venom is peptide chlorotoxin. It has been found to have properties that may actually cure human brain tumors along with other components that may help end diabetes. This has not kept some people from trying to selling them as pets, claiming that they are a less dangerous scorpion breed. This has led to many countries to consider requiring permits and papers before sales of scorpions can go through.

7)  African Bat Bug
African Bat BugOne of the more painful and horrifying encounters one can have with a bug is the African bat bug. The African bat bug wins the prize for the most violent and non particular sex. The male has a razor sharp penis. When it wants to mate, it finds a female and begins stabbing her in the abdomen or wherever he thinks he will most likely get in. It doesn't matter whether he reaches the sex organs or not. The sperm is just released into the bloodstream.

While people don't die from bat bug attacks, the experience is extremely painful. It happens most often during the mating season. The sperm released into human blood stream will not result in live bat bugs emerging from your arm. But the sting can result in painful infections and inflammation. If it is mating season and a male bat bug is on you, it may decide to try to lay eggs in your arm.

6)  Siafu
A single colony of siafu can have more than 20 million ants. In fact, while army ants and fire ants are more famous for their swarming and marching capabilities, the siafu are actually the largest swarming category of ants in the world. In fact, it is closely related to army ants.

Siafu - Army of Ants

What makes these ants so dangerous is that they hunt in swarms or columns. They set out on the search for food. Most people are able to avoid them by getting out of the way. However, invalids and children in cribs or confined areas have been killed when the ants march over them and they cannot escape. The soldiers march on the outside of the column and lead the attack. In its series on deadly insects, National Geographic documented a colony of siafu taking down a small zebra. The bites of these ants are so strong that they can be used as emergency sutures. Shamans and tribal physicians often gather siafu and use them to bite into flesh to hold a wound together. They then tear the body off, and the ant head holds the wound shut for a few days. However, burning the body is essential. Otherwise, the scent will draw the column to the patient.

Check out a quick video of someone feeding an army of Siafu a grasshopper:

5)  Japanese Giant Hornet
Japanese Giant HornetThe Japanese giant hornet is actually one of the worst hornets alive, despite being one of the rarer species. It spans about three inches, and it looks like a toy hornet. Most people outside of Japan haven't even heard of it. However, in Japan, it is a true terror.

The hornet is quite aggressive. However, it's not satisfied with just stinging people. Instead, it shoots acid into its victim's eyes including people. The acidic venom includes a pheromone that then calls all of the hornets to the attack. They then come and start stinging the victim until death. Most of the time, victims cannot escape before being swarmed. Researchers are not certain what makes the Japanese giant hornet attack some people. However, a sting is a precursor to death as the venom is dangerous in a single dose. Multiple stings, however, cannot be treated within the short span of time since the hornets do not generally leave the body until the victim is dead. The book "Deadliest Bugs on Earth" terms the Japanese Giant Hornet one of the deadliest bugs that most of the world has never heard of outside of horror movies.

If you got some spare time, you can watch this full 45 minute documentary on this hornet:

4)  Brazilian Army Ant

The Brazilian army ants are some of the most feared ants in South America. However, they are often confused for other kinds of army ants. What separates the Brazilian army ant from other army ants is that they dismantle their prey live during the swarming process. This includes people. The Brazilian army ant was actually thought to be something made up simply for horror movies. After all, there are many different species of army ants, and while some can kill invalids and infants like the siafu, most of them do not rip apart living prey. The Brazilian army ants work together. As they pass over the victim, each one seizes a piece of the victim and tears away anywhere from a quarter to a whole inch chunk of living flesh. A column of Brazilian army ants can strip a carcass before the column has fully passed over.

Brazilian army ants making a climbable wall out of themselves:
Brazilian army ant making a climbable wall

The Brazilian army ants have no nest. They carry their eggs along with them, and the ants form living ladders to cross ravines and climb surfaces. Their marches last for their entire lives. They rest only briefly during the times when the queen needs to lay her eggs. What makes them most formidable though is that their jaws are equal to a quarter to half of their body length. Generally, the ant's body is approximately half an inch long. Generally, each colony is between one and five million ants. Additionally, the ants are blind. This makes their living architectural feats even more impressive. When they start to come through a town or a city, the only thing that can be done is to get out of the way so that you don't get torn to pieces bit by bit.


3)  Human Bot Fly
Human Bot FlyRumors of the bot fly has inspired a number of horrifying alien tales, though for quite some time most entomologists presumed that the claims that the flies could and would attack humans was fictional writer hype as seen in the classic horror genre. The first known species were found in horses, sheep, and other domestic animals. However, research in prominent journals such as the Journal of Insect Science, Journal of Parasites and Vectors, and International Journal for Parasitology has discovered and documented the existence of human bot flies.

The human bot fly has adapted itself to feed only on humans. The fly lands on any place on the human body and then bites in, laying an egg. The egg is attached to the skin and results in a maggot feeding off the live flesh. Sometimes the human bot fly places its eggs on a mosquito. At this point, the larvae lands on the human victim, and the larvae burrows into the skin. It then begins eating flesh right away. They can grow anywhere and eat away at whatever they find. This includes the eyes, the lips, internal organs, and the brain. Yes, the brain. The human bot fly thrives within the human brain, and it is hardest to target inside the brain. Treatment varies based on the status of decay and the level of reproduction within the body. Human bot flies within the extremities are the easiest to treat whereas those that lodge within internal organs or the brain are the trickiest. Those that lodge within the brain can cause a number of brain diseases and insanity.

2)  Kissing Bugs
Kissing BugsThe kissing bug lives throughout the warmer regions of North, Central, and South America. It has gradually been spreading northward, but the cold winters have stopped it from going far beyond Georgia. A name like the kissing bug could fool most into thinking it's not any worse than the fictional renderings of the bed bug. However, it is one of the primary transmitters of Chaga's disease and a common instigator of chronic neurological disorders. It can even instigate heart attacks and strokes.

What makes the kissing bug so dangerous is that its bite is painless. It slips through the windows at night and bites its victims on the lips, ears, or eyelids. Through the bite, the diseases and infections can be transmitted. Often times, no marks except for a small red dot can be seen from the kissing bug's attack. It's generally not even suspected until the diseases begin to form and other causes have been ruled out.

This is what a Kissing Bug bite looks like:
Kissing Bug bite

1)  Chikungunya
Deadly Chikungunya mosquitoThe Chikungunya mosquito is hard to distinguish from other mosquitoes when just using the naked eye. Most cases of chikungunya are transmitted by the chikungunya mosquito. In fact, for quite some time, most people actually believed that all mosquitoes could carry this virus. However, only a few species including the Chikungunya mosquito, can carry it. In fact, the primary carrier species was named after the virus rather than the other way around.

This mosquito lives only throughout the warmest regions of Thailand and India during the rainy seasons. The effects of its bite are not felt for several days. It starts off with a severe rash and arthritis symptoms. Then fever sets in. Hemorrhaging is common in the latter stages. While treatments are available, it becomes increasingly more difficult to treat as it sets into the body.

A Case if the Chikungunya disease
A Case if the Chikungunya disease
By Nsaa via Wikimedia Commons

It bears many similarities to the o'nyong-nyong virus, sindbis virus, mayaro virus, and ockbelbo virus.





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