Like all other continents, North America has its share of dangerous insects. When humans cross their path, it often leads to disastrous consequences, sometimes even fatal. Learning to identify and avoid dangerous insects is important when you live in areas where they inhabit. Here are eight insects that you must watch out for, if you want to avoid painful lessons.
1. Africanized Bees
Africanized bees, also called ‘killer bees’, are extremely aggressive and attack in swarms if they perceive any threat to their hive. They can chase people for quarter of a mile and have even attacked animals. They are found in Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, California, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Over 1000 humans, who received their stings have died. Their stings result in inflammation of the skin, headaches, swelling, numbness, edema, weakness, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. In extreme cases, it may even result in increased heart rates, respiratory distress, and renal failure.
2. Arizona Bark Scorpions
The Arizona bark scorpion, the most venomous scorpion in North America, is found across the southwest United States in southeastern California, southern Utah, the Baja Peninsula and western Mexico. Its venom can cause severe pain, numbness, tingling, and vomiting, and the effects may last from a day up to three days. Temporary dysfunction and excruciating pain in the area stung is common. Though children and elderly people may die from its venom, death is rare among adults. Two deaths have been recorded in Arizona and thousands of people are stung each year. In Mexico, over 100,000 people are stung each year!
3. Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown recluse spiders are found in 15 states in the US. Around human habitations, they are found inside shoes, cardboard boxes, drawers, gloves, and under piles of clothes. Its venom contains neurotoxic, necrotic or cytotoxic properties, which destroys the tissue where it is injected. It results in chills, fever, bloody urine, fatigue, jaundice, pain in the joints, nausea, rash, and in extremely rare cases, convulsions and death.
4. Black Widow Spiders
Black widow spiders inhabit all four deserts of the American Southwest. The female black widow spider is considered the most venomous spider in North America. Its venom is 15 times as toxic as the venom of the prairie rattlesnake. The spiders are non-aggressive and bite only in self-defense. Fatalities are fairly rare as it injects a very small amount of poison when it bites. Human mortality is less than 1% from black widow spider bites. Its bites cause muscle aches, chest pain, swelling, nausea, and diaphragm paralysis that causes breathing difficulties. Though most people who are bitten suffer no serious damage, it can be fatal to small children, the elderly, or the infirm.
5. Anopheles Mosquitoes
Anopheles mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism. Worldwide, over one million people die from mosquito-borne diseases each year. Mosquito bites cause severe skin irritation, red bump and itching through an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva. They cause Malaria, Chikungunya, Dengue, Yellow Fever, Zika virus and many other deadly diseases.
6. Paper Wasps
Paper wasps are also called ‘umbrella wasps’ after the unique design of their nests. Over 22 species of paper wasps are found in North America. Stings from paper wasps are extremely painful and may produce serious reactions to people who are allergic to the venom. Their stings can cause a potentially fatal allergic reaction in some individuals, itchy rashes, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Their nests in human-inhabited areas are a potential hazard.
7. Ants (Red Harvester Ants And Fire Ants)
In the United States, the two types of ants to stay away from are red harvester ants and fire ants. Both are mainly found in southern and southwestern states. These ants can swarm and attack if their nest is threatened. These ants are especially dangerous to anyone with an allergic reaction. Their bites can be painful and itchy, and scratching can cause infection and scars. If breathing problems, chest pain, sweating, swelling, or slurred speech occur, medical assistance must be sought immediately, or it can be fatal.
In the US, tarantulas are found from California to the Mississippi River and from Texas to Missouri. Tarantulas native to America are less aggressive and will only bite a person as a last resort. No tarantulas are deadly to humans and their bite is somewhat similar to a wasp or bee sting. Their bites can cause allergic reactions, breathing problems, swelling of the throat and mouth, which can be fatal if untreated. If their stinging hairs enters the eyes or respiratory system, they can cause permanent eye damage and excruciating pain in the respiratory tract.
They maybe small, but they must not be ignored. Knowing the difference between dangerous and harmless insects can mean the difference between life and death. Everyone, especially children, must be aware of the kinds of dangerous insects that live around their immediate surroundings.