Odd and Deadly Pests

By Drazen D

All around the world people have to share their cities and homes with unwanted pests. Although most of these pests are no more than an annoyance to live with, some of them can be very dangerous to our livelihood.

The dangers that some of the most notorious pests can cause vary significantly. For example, there are those that pack painful and sometimes deadly stings, others that can wipe out an entire food crop in days and, worst of all, those that can transmit deadly diseases to large populations in no time.

This article will explore some odd pests that have been known to wreak havoc on human populations, in no particular order, with a description of where they can be found, their physical attributes and the extent of danger that they can impose on humans. If you believe that there is a deadly pest on your property, but are not sure, don’t take your chances and contact a pest expert such as www.pestendmississauga.ca today.

Giant Asian Hornet

The giant Asian hornet, also known as the Japanese Asian hornet, is the worlds largest hornet. They are native to tropical and temperate regions of eastern Asia and are commonly found in forests and low mountain regions.

Giant Asian Hornet

Physical Attributes – These giant hornets can reach body lengths of approximately 2.5 inches with a wingspan of 3 inches, far larger than the typical hornet that you would encounter in North America. Their stingers are also very large with an average length of 6mm, which can pack a powerful punch releasing a large amount of venom described to feel like a hot nail being hammered into your skin.

Danger to Humans – The venom that these hornets release contains manadaratoxin, a neurotoxin which, in large doses, can be lethal to humans that aren’t even allergic to their sting. Those who are allergic, however, have a very high chance of dying from the sting. In Japan alone, the death toll from these pests is on average 30-40 people per year.

Locusts

These pests, known as locusts, are actually the swarming phase of several grasshopper species. They can be found on every continent, except for Antarctica, and are not considered locusts unless they are concentrated in large numbers, which can devastate green crops.

Locusts feedingPhysical Attributes – Locust is the name given to certain grasshopper species when they are in a gregarious phase and swarm in the millions. Each individual pest can be anywhere between 0.5-3 inches in length and can weigh up to 2 grams.

Danger to Humans – This type of pest does not harm humans directly, like the giant hornets do, however, they can devastate our farmlands in a very short amount of time indirectly causing starvation for those who rely on the affected land. In the presence of ideal environmental conditions that promote the growth of green crops, locusts serotonin levels increase dramatically causing them to breed at incredible rates and enter into a gregarious phase. When they are in this phase they can reach flocks that result in tens of millions of them swarming farmlands and eating their body weight in plants each day. To put this into perspective, a swarm of 40 million locusts, which is considered a small swarm, can eat 80,000 lbs of plants per day.

Tsetse Fly

The tsetse fly, also known as a tik tik fly, is a small insect that can be found in approximately 36 sub-Saharan African countries. These pests are most common in rural areas where the largest exposure is to those who depend on agriculture, fishing and hunting.

Tsetse flyPhysical Attributes – If you didn’t know any better, a tsetse fly may look like most other flies, only a bit larger. At second glance, however, there are several attributes that differ the tsetse fly from other flies. Tsetse adults reach lengths up to 1.5 cm, have larger heads than regular flies and visibly separated eyes. They also have a wider abdomen which is shorter than their wingspan. The two most distinct features of a tsetse fly is the proboscis, which is a long thin needle like structure attached below their mouth, and the way their wings fold on top of one another when resting.

Danger to Humans – Tsetse flies feed on vertebrae blood, and, like other pests that feed on blood, have the potential of spreading disease. Infected flies can transmit African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, which is very difficult to diagnose and treat resulting in many fatalities. The World Health Organization (WHO) had almost 40,000 cases reported in 1998 and estimates that there were closer to 300,000 cases, most of which were undiagnosed and untreated. Control efforts have reduced reported cases significantly in recent years to less than 10,000 diagnosed cases per year since 2009, however, the risk is still very high and is estimated that there are approximately 65 million people living in regions with direct exposure to tsetse flies.

Sources

[1] World Health Organization – Trypanosomiasis, human African (sleeping sickness) – May 2015

[2] National Geographic – Locust

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