|MadSci Network: Zoology|
Thank you for your interesting question. I researched quite a while, found a good bit of information on poisonous insects but nothing special about Maine. Thus I think it is correct to assume, Maine is similar to the remainder of mainland USA. What are the most poisonous insects? You might have had three different questions in your mind when you asked this question: 1.) Which insect stings with the most dangerous venom? 2.) Which insect contains the most dangerous venom but does not sting? – these insects are only dangerous for animals that eat them or if they are touched 3.) Which insect actually kills most people and animals even if it does not any venom or dangerous chemical? As I only can guess what you wanted to know I am going to answer them all. 1.) Which insect stings with the most dangerous venom? Are insect stings dangerous at all? They sure can be. In the USA each year approximately 13 people die because of snake bites, about 10 because of bites and stings from arthropods that are no insects like spiders and scorpions, but 23 due to insect stings from bees and wasps. Usually an insect sting is quite harmless for a healthy person. They only show slight general reaction-inflammation like welts and itching. But a few show severe shock reaction like difficulty in breathing, difficulty in swallowing, a sharp fall in blood pressure, collapse and unconsciousness that can lead to death. The most dangerous insect species in the USA is the well known honey bee Apis mellifera that accounts for as many deaths as all species of snakes together. Now nearly 100% of all deaths that follow insect stings are caused by allergic reactions, not by the venom itself. Which insect has the most dangerous venom. Here the ant species in the genus Pogonomyrmex are record holder. 12 stings can kill a 2kg rabbit or rat - or 350 to 450 stings would be life threatening for any human – even without allergic reaction. Just for comparison: to be equally life threatening more than 10000 hornets, yellow jackets or honeybees must sting one person. 2.) Which insect contains the most dangerous venom but does not sting? There are only two groups of beetles and a few caterpillars in this category. The most important is the blister beetle. They produce the toxin cantharidin, a chemical that causes blisters, if eaten also inside the body in the tissues of the intestine. Around 10 beetles eaten by cows or horses by accident with their normal diet, grass or hay will make the animal seriously ill and likely kill the animal. There are around 2000 species of blister beetles worldwide and some are found all over the USA. If they occur in large numbers, they can become a problem for livestock. 3.) Which insect kills most humans and livestock even if it does not produce a dangerous venom? All insects that feed on humans or animals – mosquitoes - are potentially dangerous as they can easily transmit diseases. The world record holder is the mosquito genus Anopheles. In Africa alone this insect kills one child under 5 years old every 30 seconds. That are more than 3000 each day and near 1.5 million in a year. Around 10 times this number gets malaria for the first time and have to battle this disease for the rest of their lives – even if they do not die of it or only many years later. Add the cases in Asia, Oceania and Southern America and you will agree that malaria certainly is the number killer one among all insect transmitted diseases. In the USA malaria is not a predominant problem. Most cases occur get malaria during journeys in countries with high malaria. But also in the USA there is asways the threat of infections tansmitted by mosquitos (and ticks - that are no insects). In the USA the West Nile Virus made it into the news last year, with less than 50 people getting ill, none of them died. But the virus killed a larger number of birds along the eastern shore. This is a mosquito transmitted disease. Lime disease is a similar viral infection but transmitted by ticks. Of course this is only a short introduction in a highly interesting subject. All the in formations in this answer came from following sources: Encyclopedia Britannica on blister beetles University of Florida web page on stinging or venomous insects The book of insect records. Published by the University of California and finally the information pages of the World Health Organization on Malaria Thanks again for the question. I learned a lot!
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