The Webster Dictionary definition of an insect is “small six legged animal: an air breathing invertibrae animal anthropod with a body that has well defined segments…” Most insects are just pesky pests that invade homes and gardens, but some can be dangerous or even deadly. There are millions, if not billions of species of insects, but even the few that can cause great physical harm have a big impact.
Kissing Bug (Triatoma protracta): Also known as an Assassin Bug, this bug does not actually “kiss” it’s victim. The kissing bug has a long needle like nose called a proboscis. It does not have a mandible of any sort and therefore cannot bite. What it can do is suck it’s victims blood. It is a nocturnal insect that will “kiss” it’s victim around the mouth, eyes or ears. Although it cannot bite, the sting site is often referred to as a bite. Kissing bugs are also known to spread Chagas’ disease.
Fleas: There are many different species of fleas throughout the world. A person doesn’t usually think of them as anything more than just an annoyance. They bite animals and humans and the usual side effect is some itching and scratching. Fleas, however, are responsible for spreading Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death, that almost wiped out the European population in the fourteenth century. They can also spread other viral and bacterial diseases such as Spotted Fever, Cat Scratch Disease and Tapeworms.
Siafu Ants (Dorylus nigricans): Also known as Driver ants. These ants attack in swarms and a single colony can be as large as 22 million. Siafu ants are the only known species of insect that can kill and devour an entire human being. They have very strong jaws and their bite is very painful. They are also able to sting, though they usually rely on just biting their victims. They are only found in Africa.
Tsetse Fly: There are over 22 species of these flies. They only live in Africa and are a huge cause for concern. They strictly live on the blood of animals and humans. They are responsible for the disease known as Sleeping Sickness. It can cause a slow and agonizing death if left untreated. The Tsetse fly passes on a parasite while feeding on it’s victim. They transfer a disease called Nagana to animals which has effects similar to that of Sleeping disease.
Mosquito: The most dangerous insects in the world are Mosquitoes. As they suck the blood of their victim they can spread a number of deadly diseases. There are more than 3500 species of Mosquitoes in the world. They spread diseases such as West Nile Virus, Yellow Fever and Malaria. Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from Mosquito bites.
Sources: The Discover Channel “Dangerous Insects and Spiders”
CNN.com “Battling The Deadly Bite of the Tsetse Fly” (author unknown, Feb. 28th, 1998)