Last month we shared our top 6 choices for the craziest insects in the United States, and this post shares 6 more. Not all of these are found in the Midwest, and most of them are common in the southern portion of the United States. However, if you do see one of these pests, proceed with caution and contact a professional to protect your home and property.
There are several breeds of ants that are called fire ants, or sometimes called tropical ants, red ants, or ginger ants. They are small red ants that are commonly found in the southeastern portion of the United States. When you think of fire ants, you probably think of Florida, because many tourists have unknowingly stumbled onto a fire ant mound and remember their painful sting. The most painful of fire ant stings comes from the Red Imported Fire Ant, which is an invasive species brought over on shipping crates in the 1930s. While their stings are painful, only a small percentage of people are severely allergic, and over-the-counter treatments will work best to reduce pain and inflammation. The biggest issue is that they swarm, so often you’re not getting just one or two stings, but many.
Anopheles mosquitos are a genus of mosquito that are the primary transmitters of malaria. Although it is very uncommon for them to transmit malaria in the United States, there have been over 60 cases of locally transmitted malaria in the United States since the 1950s. They are a relatively small threat, with most people just receiving an itchy bite, but they are the only genera of mosquito that can infect people with malaria.
The Puss Caterpillar is the larva of the Southern Flannel Moth, and one of the most venomous caterpillars in the United States. They are found along the south and southeast portions of the United States, living in oak, elm, and wild plum trees, as well as other garden plants such as ivy and rose. In larval form, they are about 1” in length with long, curly hair covering the entire body. They have spines along their body that cause a painful sting and reaction if touched, which can radiate throughout near parts of the body and cause numbing, pain, and tingling. Adult moths are small, but retain fur on their bodies, which gives them the “flannel moth” name.
Africanized Bees and Wasps
This species was creating using cross breeding of African honey bees with other various European honey bees, and produced what is known as the “killer bee”. The species first arrived in the United States in 1990 and has spread throughout. They are extremely aggressive, fast, and will swarm after predators up to a quarter mile. They’re have been close to 1000 fatalities due to this species, and they pack a very painful sting. The sting is not much different from other bee species, but it is their speed, defensiveness, and swarming tendencies that make them a threat.
If you’ve lived in Florida, you’ve probably heard the myth that these creatures were a science experiment gone wrong at the University of Florida. However, they are not a man-made creation, but originate in South America and are common throughout the southern United States. They are a species of march flies that remain connected to their mate after reproduction. They are often found on windowsills of cars, and due to their acidic body chemistry can cause damage to paint on cars. They commonly come out around late spring and late summer, sometimes even late December in parts of Florida.
Tarantula Hawk Wasps
The tarantula hawk wasp is a species of wasp that hunts tarantulas. They are a parasitic predator, and they sting their prey to immobilize it. They then bring it back to the nests, where the wasp lays eggs in the tarantula's body which devour the still-living prey. The are typically 5cm in length, making them one of the larger species of wasps. They have black bodies and rust colored wings. They are found in parts of the United States, as far north as Utah. They are the state insect of New Mexico. Despite their docile and non-aggressive nature, this species possesses a very painful sting that they will use if they need to protect their nest.
What is the Craziest Bug You’ve Encountered?
Let us know in the comments below! Make sure to stay tuned next month for our second round of crazy insects--but from around the world.