5. Africanized Honey Bee (hybrid Apis mellifera scutellata)
While most of us can deal with normal bees, the ones that we see all the time in our gardens, if you ever come into contact with an Africanized Honey Bee, you’re definitely in for some trouble. Though normal bees do sting, being stung by a honey bee is much different, as it’s unlikely that you’ll just be stung once since they hang around in swarms. In 1956 these bees were brought to Brazil in order to breed a more efficient honeybee. However, this failed and most of the bees were able to escape. From Brazil the swarms of bees have reached Central America and have even come as far up as the southwestern U.S.
What’s to Fear?
Because they are known to travel in swarms, when a bee attacks a victim, many of the other bees will do so as well. It is said that one swarm of these bees can take down a horse. The bees have killed about 1,000 people since they’ve started coming up from Brazil. These bees definitely put a face to the name killer bees.
4. Kissing bug (Triatomines)
First discovered in the 19th century by Charles Darwin, the kissing bug is an insect that you don’t ever want to come into close contact with. There are 138 known species in existence. Most of them are within the U.S., with others scattered throughout Asia, Australia, and Africa. All of the known species are said to be able to transmit Trypanosoma cruzi, a very harmful parasite that can be fatal. Most species of the insect are known to live off of vertebrate blood while some are able to live off of invertebrates.
What’s to Fear?
The potentially lethal kissing bug is known to live in the same dwellings as humans, often making their homes on the outside as well as the inside of our houses. It is said that 45,000-50,000 people die each year from kissing bug bites. This is because the parasite that the bug carries, Trypanosoma cruzi, is known to cause Chagas disease, which seems very minute at first but is fatal over. At first there is just swelling at the site of the bite, but then the disease can lead to intestinal issues as well as cardiac problems. In fact most of those who die from Chagas disease die from Chagasic cardiomyopathy.
3. Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans)
While flies alone are annoying, imagine a fly that lives by sucking blood from animals and humans. The tsetse fly is found in the Kalahari and Saharan deserts. This insect is widely studied today due to the disease that they transmit. The flies look very similar to the normal housefly we all love to swat at, except for a proboscis on their head, which is the anatomical part that allows them to suck blood. There are 34 different species of tsetse flies, all of them fitting into one of the three categories: savannah fly, forest fly, or riverine fly.
What’s to Fear?
Though a little fly may seem pretty harmless, the tsetse fly can kill, and do so each year. Most of the deaths are in Africa- it is said that 250,000 to 300,000 die each year from something known as the sleeping disease (the numbers are slowly decreasing). The tsetse fly carries protozoa known as trypanosomes, but so do many other insects. However, when someone is bitten by the tsetse fly, the protozoa are introduced to the body and cause a disease known as the Sleeping Sickness. If not treated properly, the disease is able to shut down necessary bodily functions, such as the endocrine and cardiac systems. Next, the disease enters the neurological system, causing confusion and an abnormal sleep cycle due to insomnia and slumber. The most recent notable epidemic of the disease was in Uganda in 2008.
2. Rat Fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis)
When thinking of fleas, you probably think of a tiny insect that has landed on a household cat or dog that causes a lot of itching. Fleas are often only 1/16 to 1/8 inch long, with a dark colored body and a mouth that is made to be able to suck blood off of the helpless host it lands on. A flea bite, whether on your pet or your own body, will often cause a red mark accompanied by a lot of itching. Though there are different types of fleas that you’d find on a dog or cat, one of the more deadly fleas is one you’d find on a rat. While rats are pretty scary to most on their own, a flea-infested rat is even scarier, and is one that needs to be avoided.
What’s to Fear?
While fleas are often no bigger than the nail on your pinky finger, they have been known to carry devastating diseases and germs, the most notable being the Yersinia pestis bacteria. This bacteria is known for causing the death of nearly three-quarters of Europe’s population during the 14th century. Better known as the Black Death, this plague killed between 350 and 375 million people and peaked during 1348-1350. The rats that were often found on merchant ships are said to have spread the disease and, due to lack of medical information and treatment, the disease spread and spread. The plague was also never fully wiped out and for years there would be a reoccurrence of deaths due to the deadly bacteria. While today dying from this bacteria would be rare in the U.S. and in most places in Europe, in many third-world countries it is very possible.
1. Anopheles Mosquito (Anopheles quadrimaculatus)
Once the temperature outside hits a steady stream of temperatures above 50°F (10°C), you’ll surely start to see those pesky mosquitoes flying around outside. You are even more likely to see them once the sun begins to go down. As if dealing with bugs isn’t a nuisance in itself, mosquitoes are a bit more to deal with, especially if one lands on you and decides to bite. While only female mosquitoes will bite a human, some of them carry diseases that can be very harmful. There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes, 200 of those living in North America, many carrying ailments such as yellow fever, dengue, encephalitis, and even canine heartworm.
What’s to Fear?
A mosquito has probably bitten you at least once before in your life, so you’re familiar with the little red bump that may swell and really itches- nothing a little cortisone or anti-inflammatory skin cream won’t fix. However, in some cases, a mosquito bite can lead to a lifetime of illness, or even lead to death. One of the most widely known mosquito-borne diseases today is malaria. It is very prevalent in tropical countries: there are about 350–500 million cases found each year and about 1-3 million people die from it each year. Malaria is said to affect at least 10% of the world’s total population. These deaths are usually noted in sub-Saharan Africa where mosquitoes are very prominent and proper care for malaria is scarce.