Top 10 Deadliest Bugs


It is estimated that there are about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 insects living today. That’s right, a quintillion insects.

In the world, there are about 900 thousand different kinds of living insects, making up about 80% of all of the world’s species. In the U.S. alone there are 91,000 known species and about 73,000 that have yet to be scientifically described and classified.

While the insects on this list are nowhere near being the deadliest animals on earth, these bugs really do make their mark… sometimes literally, sometimes remarkably- particularly for living things that are no bigger than a human finger.

Below is a list of ten insects that you definitely don’t want to run into:

10. House Centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrata)

Originating in the Mediterranean (or Mexico, depending on the source), the house centipede has become a very common bug around the world. You may think centipedes look unattractive but they are actually “good” bugs, as they eat other pests and sometimes even spiders. Of course, if you have entomophobia (fear of insects or bugs), then this argument isn’t going to help. In any case, centipedes are more of a pest than they are a threat, but shockingly they can cause some damage. If you are bitten by one of these insects, you’ll definitely feel it. Some who have experienced it say that it is painful, but nothing that will send you off crying in the corner.

What’s to Fear?

While centipedes aren’t insects that are responsible for tons and tons of deaths, you’d be surprised to find out that every two years one person does die due to a centipede bite. This is usually due to an allergic reaction to the venom that the bug can inject into your body when it bites you. However, it’s rare that one is so allergic to this venom that it kills them.

9. Fire Ants (Solenopsis)

Deadly Bugs: Fire ants sting their prey and the inject venom

While having a picnic with ants doesn’t sound so bad, as most ants are harmless and miniscule compared to the human body, having a picnic with fire ants definitely isn’t the wisest idea. There are over 280 different species of ants that sting and one of the most widely known is the fire ant. Other ants kill by stinging their prey and then spraying the wound with acid, but the fire ant is particularly ruthless. They kill by stinging their prey and then injecting venom known as solenopsin.  And because of this, when a human is stung by the ant, it can be compared to the sensation felt when being burned; however, the sting is usually minor and something that the body can fight on its own.

What’s to Fear?

As you’d imagine, a little ant can’t do much damage to a human. All we’d have to do is make a little use of our left shoe. However, ants live in colonies and sometimes, with enough stings and enough bodily sensitivity, the fire ants can kill. It is said that about 5% of those who report being bitten by a fire ant die due to anaphylactic shock. Of course this is very far and in between, but there are reports of deaths caused by an allergic reaction to the venom.

8. Siafu (Dorylus)

Very similar to fire ants, Siafu are ants that are mainly located in east and central Africa, but they can also be found in parts of Asia. These ants are said to live in colonies of 20 million ants, notably 20 million blind ants. They are able to travel through the use of pheromones. Out of these 20 million, there is a group of ants known as the soldier ants. These ants are the ones that are able to sting to fend off or kill prey. It is said that while the ants are able to sting, they often use their jaws, made for shearing, to bite. The jaws of these ants are so strong that in some locations in Africa, they are actually used as sutures which can hold for up to four days, to allow wounds to heel properly.

What’s to Fear?

If one is stung by a Siafu, the bite is often very minimal and nothing that requires a doctor. However, it is said that the young and elderly are very susceptible to their bites, and some have died due to complications caused by the ant bite. Around 20-50 people reportedly die each year from a Siafu bite. These ants are often very aggressive and when you interrupt their colony, you just may be in a little bit of trouble.

7. Wasps and Bees (Vespula germanica/Apis mellifera)

As pesky as they are, wherever you go, you’re sure to find wasps and bees. On flowers, near something that smells sweet, or making a hive in a very inconvenient place- wasps and bees are an everyday part of life when the weather is warm enough to permit it. You’ve probably been stung at least once so you know what it feels like. It’s usually not an event that requires medical attention – unless you’re allergic.

What’s to Fear?

If you’re not allergic to a wasp or bee sting, then you really have nothing to worry about. If you are allergic to wasp or bee stings, then getting stung might be more of a problem. It is said that about 53 people die each year because of an allergic reaction from being stung. Those who are allergic to the venom let off after being stung can go into anaphylactic shock, which often brings about hives, wheezing, confusion, pale skin, and sometimes unconsciousness and even death.

6. Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia)

You’ve probably seen a hornet once in your life and you probably weren’t too fearful of it as they are usually pretty small and pretty easy to rid of. However, imagine a hornet on steroids, and when you do, just look to the Asian Giant Hornet. This hornet is said to be the biggest in the world, with a length of 2 inches and a wing span of 3 inches. The hornet also sports a ¼ inch long stinger, but being stung with by this hornet is definitely not like being stung like a bee. While you won’t find these hornets anywhere near the U.S. or Europe, if you ever make a trip to Eastern Asia, you’re sure to run into them a few times, especially if you travel the mountainous places in Japan.

What’s to Fear?

Take it from someone who has experienced it. According to Masato Ono, someone who has been stung by an Asian Giant Hornet, the sting felt like a “like a hot nail being driven into his leg.” The venom that is released by the stinger has about 8 different compounds, one that causes discomfort, one that can damage soft tissue, and one that is able to create an odor that may attract even more hornets. Those who are allergic to bees can die from the reaction, but some die because of a chemical known as mandaratoxin which can be fatal if there is enough introduced into the body. It is said that each year, about 70 people die from these stings.

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.

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  1. Have been stung by an insect but don’t know which type and it’s left the spot with some black sort of thing and very itchy. Learnt it leaves in wet areas.

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  3. if morepeople cared to elemanat some of each insect over the countrys everywere like donate to have it done then there wouldnt be as much of that kind of sickness then work are way up people surprize me sometime ya i see all kind of stuff then im thinkin so u show this now do somethin about it thiis comes from a u would say hick but commin fock peace that is what people need to think

  4. canuckcreeped on

    Thanks all, as I am itching all over from the creepies. Spiders… was bitten by a brown recluse and my leg becamse twice its size in a day and was parylized for a few. Still don’t have normal feeling in it. I used to want to go to Japan but being allergic to bees and contemplating that hornet’s size – NO WAY! Thanks guys, lol.

  5. Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz on

    I don’t seem to know why… But this list made me less scared of bugs. ?

  6. Don’t forget that the Asian Giant Hornet is super aggressive, lives specifically outside of large cities (like Tokyo), fly at up to 50 kph, and can *spray* their venom if they choose to. Also, a “swarm” of a two dozen can eradicate a full colony of bees in no time. National Geographic video of a swarm destroying a colony of 30,000 bees.

  7. anopheles mosquito cause dengue fever, it causes substantial mortality in southeast asia

  8. of all the bugs, the centipede is the scariest of them all. It may not kill that many people, its bite is very painful.

  9. the asian giant hornet has moved to the u.s. while i am no expert i do know that here in north carolina i have witnessed personally several.
    before anyone hails bs i will tell the whole storry.
    the ones i saw have all been 1 3/4 inches or longer. one specifically was larger than a cicada (but not by much) that it took out in mid flight. i was outside an apartment building in raleigh working when i heard a smack/thump/buzz behind me. i turned around and found the two about 15-20 feet from me ( thats how loud it was) on the ground with the japanese hornet actively stinging the cicada untill it stopped moving. after the cicada was sufficiently subdued it was apparently too heavy for lift-off so this bad-ass hornet trying to lift it like a huey sort of crawled and barely hovering maneuvered it to a tree. it then did the same up the tree to about 4 ft or so and launched. it dropped considerably (like a plane launched from a carrier) nearly hitting the ground again before generating enough lift and flew away.
    it is still the most fantastic display of nature that i have personally been witness to.
    this was probably 5yrs ago. i went home, looked them up and have come to the conclusion that it had to be a japanese hornet. nothing i found claims any american hornet that large and i still see a couple a year.
    i was able to catch one about a week later in the same spot and he went more than half way across an empty chew can i used to bring it home. i can also attest to the 1/4 inch stinger that was protruding after death.
    i’m not allergic to bees and in general not affraid even when near my head, but i take no chances when these are near. truly frightening when in your face.

    • You might be seeing Cicada Killers, actually. They’re hornet-like, as large as you describe, and specialize in attacking cicadas as you saw. Their sting paralyzes the cicada, keeping it alive in suspended animation months after other cicadas die of old age. This ensures the wasp larva have fresh food when they hatch 🙂

  10. While an interesting list, it hardly counts as the deadliest, unless you mean in sheer numbers of deaths because of how common it is to run into them.

  11. It's kind of debatable that anyone has ever died from a house centipede, they're very unaggressive with a very mild venom. Some other, larger centipede species are more dangerous, and of course there are some very dangerous spiders (but I guess those have been done to death on lists like these)

  12. You put centipedes that kill one person every two years in the top ten! What's up with that?

  13. you forgot about the bot fly! not sure if it is deadly- but certainly scary… it lays larvae inside of you!… then it grows and eventually burrows out thru the skin it had happily been growing inside of. vioala! the cycle starts again.

    • The botfly is not deadly at all or even all that scary, it usually doesn't even cause pain. In fact, the chamber the maggot lives in (a pocket just under your skin) never normally bleeds and the maggot keeps it clean of bacteria. The "screw worm" fly, on the other hand, causes huge infestations of tiny maggots that tunnel through healthy flesh and can even kill cattle!

  14. Nice list! flea-infected should read flea-infested I think though. I like the text on the video on the Hornet about taking as lots of pictures to piss it off.