10 Deadliest Insects in the World

10 Deadliest Insects in the World

Posted by Paul Miller on Sep 24th 2018

Ranging anywhere from 1 to 10 million different species and making up approximately 80% of the world’s living creatures, it should come as no surprise that some insects are downright deadly. Some bugs are deadly because of the diseases they carry while others can kill you with their toxic venom. We like to think such tiny creatures don’t have the power to kill us, since we are bigger and smarter than they are, but sometimes the simplest of animals can cause the most harm. So, without further hesitation, let’s take a look at some of the deadliest insects the world has to offer.

1) Mosquitoes

Hands down, the mosquito is the deadliest animal (besides humans) on the planet. Even though they don’t have venom and their bite isn’t fatal, they are the most common transmitters of deadly diseases. Every year, the World Health Organization estimates there are around 300 million cases of malaria reported and more than 1 million malaria related deaths each year. The Anopheles Mosquito is responsible for malaria and carries the parasite in its saliva and passes it into the human bloodstream when they feed. Found mostly in regions near the equator, especially the Amazon River Basin, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia, malaria is a serious problem for infected people who don’t get immediate treatment. Fortunately, there is treatment available and, if you are travelling to areas where malaria is prevalent, be sure to get anti-malaria medication to avoid getting the disease at all. Malaria is the most well-known mosquito transmitted disease but they carry many other fatal diseases as well. Dengue fever, Yellow fever, encephalitis, and West Nile virus are all spread by mosquitoes. More recently, the Zika virus has become a problem in both North and South America.

2) Tsetse Flies

This small, brown fly is native to Central Africa and is responsible for transmitting sleeping sickness. This parasitic disease affects both humans and animals and is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year. The parasite goes into the bloodstream and then slowly works it way into the brain and neurological system, causing extreme weakness and fatigue, leading to coma and death. Even scarier, the disease can take years to develop and by the time symptoms are felt, it is too late to begin treatment. However, if treated early, the disease can be cured.

3) Fleas

Another disease carrying insect is the common flea. Found everywhere in the world living on the blood of warm-blooded animals, these little bugs were responsible for one of the greatest epidemics in the history of the world. Fleas, even today, can carry the Bubonic Plague, the same disease that was responsible for killing hundreds of millions of people in Europe a little less than 700 years ago. While most parts of the world no longer have to worry about getting the Black Death anymore, fleas can still carry harmful viruses and bacteria and give humans and our pets itchy, painful bites.

4) Bees

Bees make this list not because they pass on deadly diseases but because of the allergic reaction their stings cause, as well as having some aggressive species in the family. For most people, being stung by a bee is nothing more than a painful inconvenience, but for others it is a life-threatening situation. For people who are allergic to bees and wasps, being stung just once can lead to anaphylactic shock and suffocation if not immediately treated. Every year in America alone, around 100 people die from bee stings. Recently, a more dangerous kind of bee has made its way up from South America and now calls the American Southwest its home. Africanized honey bees, also known as killer bees, are the result of a science experiment that tried to make European bees strong enough to live in the Amazonian jungle. Several decades ago, a swarm escaped their lab and has been reproducing and marching their way north ever since. These bees are incredibly aggressive and a swarm can inflict thousands of stings to a single target in a matter of minutes. Every year, there are thousands of deaths reported around the world related to killer bees.

5) Siafu

Also known as driver ants or African army ants, these are deadly because of their sheer numbers. Found mostly in Central and East Africa, a single ant colony can have more than 20 million members and a single one can give an extremely painful bite. However, when food is scarce, these ants, all 20 million of them, will hit the road in search of food and destroy anything in their way. Stories of entire fields of crops and village food storages being completely decimated are not uncommon. Even elephants are wary of crossing a line of these ants. Every year, it is estimated about 50 people die from these ants. Most of the time it is people who are sleeping and got caught off guard and wound up in the path of the marching colony, leading to countless bites and eventual death. There are even reports that humans who were killed by the ants being completely skeletonized in a matter of hours by the hungry colony.

6) Locust

Alright, so these insects are harmless to humans by themselves but their insatiable appetite makes them more than just dangerous. These insects are so devastating to farmers and their crops they were even one of the ten plagues released onto Egypt back in biblical times. A single swarm of several thousand insects is able to eat vast areas of farmland and destroy crops in a matter of hours before moving on to the next location. In areas where subsistence farming is a way of life, a swarm of locust can mean complete financial ruin and possibly starving to death.

7) Spiders

So, spiders are technically arachnids and not insects but deserve to make this list because there are so many good candidates to choose from because of their deadly venom. America is home to two of the deadliest spiders, the brown recluse and black widow, both of which can be fatal if antivenom isn’t administered. There is a lot of debate about which spider is the deadliest in the world but it usually comes down to either the Brazilian wandering spider or the Sydney funnel web spider. The wandering spider is dangerous because it lives in close proximity to human population centers and is able to deliver a large amount of venom in a single bite. However, the Sydney funnel web spider has incredibly powerful jaws and can even bite through shoes. Both are responsible for several deaths each year but there is an antivenom available for each spider.

8) Scorpions

Like spiders, these aren’t actually insects but are often lumped into the same family. There are many different venomous species around the world but there are a few that cause deaths each year. Scorpions are especially dangerous because they are well camouflaged and usually sting during the night, making identification difficult. In America, the Arizona bark scorpion is one of the most poisonous in the world and a single sting can be fatal, although deaths related to their stings are quite rare. However, the most poisonous scorpion is found in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The fat-tailed scorpion has the notorious nickname of “man killer” for good reason. They inject a powerful neurotoxin into the target which can be deadly to a full-grown human. Although there is an antivenom available, it is still responsible for many deaths every year.

9) Asian Giant Hornet

Native to Japan and East Asia, this massive hornet can grow to 3 inches in length and a couple dozen of them can eat an entire hive of honeybees in just a few hours. Like killer bees, they are incredibly aggressive and can deliver many extremely painful stings, often described as the most painful sting of any insect in the world. Each year, they kill upwards of 40 people in Asia with their potent venom that can cause kidney failure and death. Once one hornet has stung, it will release pheromones and attract other to come and sting you as well. If the venom doesn’t cause organ failure, it will eat away at your flesh and leave a large, festering wound near the injection site.

10) Fire Ants

Widespread and feared throughout much of the world, these little red ants cause more than 100 deaths per year and millions of dollars in crop damage. They are mostly herbivores but can become aggressive when their nest is disturbed. They will attack in great numbers to protect their nest and a single colony can have upwards of 200,000 members. A single bite is quite painful, similar to getting burned (hence the name) and causes a painful, pussy bump. However, they only bite to grab a hold of you and then they sting you, releasing venom which can cause allergic reactions similar to that of a bee sting, occasionally resulting in death.