Every area of the country has its beautiful sights. Unfortunately, it also has aggressive and cranky insects who stand ready to defend them. So, be on the lookout for these especially brutal invaders the next time you’re setting up camp. They mean well, but they fight dirty. And if you disturb them, a trip to the ER could end your vacation early.
1. Wheel Bug
Wheel bugs, aside from looking like something from your very worst nightmare, carry a long, pointy beak that’s folded beneath them. This beak is actually part of what helps them survive, as they use it to drain fluids from their prey. However, when threatened, they’re not above using their beaks as weapons. The bite of a wheel bug is actually from that pointy beak, drilling into your skin. It’s intensely painful, too. Wheel bugs are out and about during mid-to-late summer in the southern half of the country. .
2. Fire Ant
Fire ants like open fields and grassy areas, so be aware before you pitch your tent. Fire ants can be found in many southern states, including New Mexico, Arkansas, and Texas. If you disturb a fire ant mound, prepare to be rushed by a large number of scared and angry ants. And when fire ants bite, they lock powerful mandibles into your skin and then “rotate” to cause the most damage. These bites later form blisters that can pop and become easily infected.
3. Africanized Honey Bee
Much like fire ants, Africanized honey bees attack in large numbers, and their reaction time to implied threats is 10 times quicker than that of regular honey bees. To date, over 1,000 people have died from being swarmed by Africanized honey bees. And these bees look very similar to regular honey bees, so you probably won’t know the difference until it’s too late. Steer clear of bee’s nests when choosing your next campsite.
4. Tarantula Hawk
Taratula hawks are actually oversized wasps found in the southwest deserts of the United States. They’re called tarantula hawks because the female wasps hunt down and “kidnap” unsuspecting tarantulas to use as food for their larvae. The sting of a tarantula hawk can paralyze a large spider, and for humans, it has been described as “the most painful sting on the planet.”
5. Saddleback Caterpillar
The Saddleback caterpillar is the weirdest little guy you’ll ever see, if you actually see him, that is. He’s bright green and brown, which makes him blend in well with his surroundings. And he’s found mostly in the eastern states. Saddleback caterpillars have stinging hairs filled with poison that feel much like a bee sting. However, they can cause nausea, and you’ll likely feel the sting for days afterward.
So, the next time you’re setting up camp in the woods, in the desert, or in a clearing, take a quick scan for these tiny terrors. They can be painful or debilitating to adults and worse for children and pets. They really just want to be left alone, but if you accidentally disturb them, or they perceive you as a threat, your relaxing getaway could become a full-blown, waking nightmare.