Mosquito

The Worst Bug Infestations in History

November 22, 2022 People's Tonight 65 views

Mike Rothschild

Bug swarms and bug infestations are among the most vile experiences a person can go through. Imagine millions of insects flying or crawling at you, swarming, stinging, biting, and most of all, dying and leaving putrid remains. Even talking about them gives people the willies, and these scary insects are incredibly common, everywhere in the world, throughout history.

History is riddled with tales of insect swarms – hordes of locusts, flies, mosquitoes, and bees making life hellish for anyone in their path. But with climate change leading to warmer winters, the natural cold snaps that get rid of huge numbers of bugs are getting more and more mild. This means more bugs are surviving to be born, and these bugs swarm when unleashed on the world.

Combine this with invasive species being introduced into places where they have no natural predator, and you have the perfect conditions for bad news.

Read on to learn more about the bug swarms that were terrible and awful be caught in. These insect infestations are sure to make your skin crawl!

________________________________________

• 2017 – A Swarm Of Mosquitoes Is Bothering Workers At A New York Airport

Mosquito2Video: YouTube

Planes aren’t the only thing flying into LaGuardia Airport in New York. There’s a huge mosquito problem at the airport, and is driving the workers there wild. In 2016, the airport started a billion dollar facelift. And once construction started, workers said the mosquitoes started causing major issues.

“It’s very annoying,” one worker told DNA Info .

• • 2016 – Gypsy Moths Invade Rhode Island And Wreak Havoc On Trees

Mosquito1Video: YouTube

In the summer of 2016, gypsy moths invaded parts of the East Coast, including Rhode Island. According to government officials, millions of little caterpillars descended on the tiny state and destroyed native trees to the area. It’s particularly alarming because these creatures are an invasive species, and if they keep coming back in such large numbers, the could cause serious damage.

• • 2015 – Millions Of Spiders Spin A Web Of Doom Around Memphis

SpiderVideo: YouTube

In November 2015, large swaths of a neighborhood in Memphis, TN, were covered by a substance that looked like frost or maybe morning dew, but was really (barf) sprawling spiderwebs as big as a half mile long. Experts seemed totally fine with this – apparently the dispersal of millions (millions!) of tiny spiders in the area is just a case of nature doing its thing.

Residents, however, were less than thrilled. “They’re in the air, flying everywhere. They all on the house, on the side of the windows.” Eek.

• • 2015 – Burning Man Mystery Bugs Just Wanna Hear Some Music Too, You Guys

BugsVideo: YouTube

The 2015 edition of the California desert festival Burning Man featured something besides peace, love, and kind bud – huge swarms of bugs. Festival-goers took to social media to show off infestations of mystery insects that were biting people, emitting a stink, and causing serious sanitation problems. Insect experts identified several types of seed bugs looking for water, and said the welts they were causing weren’t from bites, but from the contents of their stomachs – mustard seed plants that corrode skin.

• • 2014 – Albuquerque Grasshopper Swarm Is So Bad It Can Be Seen On Weather Radar

GrasshopperVideo: YouTube

One unforeseen side effect of climate change is an increase in horrible bug infestations. So when Albuquerque was hit hard by a series of hot, dry winters that didn’t get rid of grasshopper eggs, the result was a cloud of insects so dense it was visible on radar and looked like rain. It was the worst outbreak in 20 years in the New Mexico town.

• • 2014 – Rasberry Crazy Ants Eat Houston Alive

AntsVideo: YouTube

Houston exterminator Tom Rasberry is credited with discovering a horrifically destructive ant able to eat basically anything. The three millimeter long bugs (so-named for their erratic movements) probably came to the Southwest from South America in the ’30s, and in the past few years have cut a swath of chewy destruction through Houston, eating wiring, laptops, water pumps, and electrical systems. They’re now in over two dozen states.

• • 2013 – Terrifying Asian Giant Hornets Kill Dozens In China

HornetsPhoto: KENPEI / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Found mostly in China and Japan (and inching its way across Europe), the Asian giant hornet can grow up to an inch and a half long, can fly 25 mph, and cover up to 60 miles in one day. Oh, and they have stings that dissolve flesh and shut down kidneys, and leave welts the size of bullet wounds. One giant hornet outbreak in China in 2013 killed 42 people , and it’s estimated that several dozen people in Japan pass each year from giant hornet stings.

• • 2013 – Oklahoma Cricket Swarm Is Stuff Of Biblical Proportions

CricketVideo: YouTube

In summer 2013, large parts of Oklahoma were infested by a gigantic cricket swarm, leaving shocked residents to deal with piles of rotting, stinky cricket remains. As with many other bug outbreaks, the culprit was drought, which created a hot and dry environment perfect for incubating huge numbers of the bugs – which were then nurtured by larger than normal rains in late spring. The stench of billions of dead crickets was said to be nauseating.

• • 2013 – Cicada Invasion Brought Billions Of Noisy Bugs Like A Plague

CicadaVideo: YouTube

Every 13 to 17 years, the US East Coast and Midwest are swarmed by a gigantic infestation of billions of cicadas, ear-splittingly loud bugs that gestate underground, and emerge to mate in local trees. Since different broods spend different lengths of time in different parts of the world, chances are pretty good that there’s an invasion going on somewhere every year.

• • 2012 – Sadiya Tarantula Invasion Is The Stuff Of Nightmares

SadiyaVideo: YouTube

In 2012, a cultural festival in Sadiya, India turned into a nightmare when it was swarmed by thousands of giant, tarantula-like spiders. Researchers weren’t able to ascertain exactly what species the spiders were, but they were big, poisonous, and caused a panic among festival-goers. Numerous injuries were sustained by people frantically trying to get out of the way, and two people passed from spider bites.

However, there’s some speculation that the attack was either a simple snake bite, or a hoax. Multiple researchers cast doubt on whether the bites came from “mysterious spiders” or regular spiders or snakes. What actually happened remains unknown.

Silverfish

falling to #13 on

The Grossest Bugs on Earth

• 2011 – Iowa Midge “Bugnado” Makes Dangerous Road Conditions For Drivers

BugnadoPhoto: treegrow / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

In 2011, a “bugnado” of midges descended upon rural Iowa. The aquatic insects aren’t harmful to humans, but the gigantic piles of dead bodies can make roads slick, especially since the males die almost immediately after inseminating the females. Recent flooding turned fallow fields into a perfect breeding ground, and breed they did – in huge numbers.

• • 2011 – Australian Beetles Claim The Life Of At Least One

BeettlesVideo: YouTube 

A beetle infestation in Australia’s Gold Coast claimed a human victim when a 61 year old bicycle rider skidded into a huge pile of dead bugs, and wiped out. He broke multiple ribs, his collarbone, and his hip – leaving him bedridden for six weeks. But the beetles were already dead, so they didn’t care.

• • 2011 – Money-Eating Termites Eat 220,000 Rupees In India

TermitesPhoto: Gnilenkov Aleksey / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

A bank manager in Lucknow, India got the shock of his life when he opened up a steel chest deep in the bowels of his bank to find a swarm of termites eating the cash inside. The insects managed to devour over $220,000 worth of rupees – and it’s not the first time it had happened at banks in India. Needless to say, customers were unhappy with their hard-earned cash being gobbled up by bugs.

• • 2010 – New York City Bedbug Infestation Makes Everyone Itch

BedbugPhoto: Macroscopic Solutions / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

NYC’s famed bedbug invasion began in the late aughts, and not in poorer areas of the city, but in elite, wealthy enclaves. International travelers brought the bugs back, and soon they were everywhere, swarming everything from private homes to stores to movie theaters. The bugs peaked in the brutal summer of 2010, but measures taken by the city, including laws forcing landlords to make bedbug inspections, have curbed them.

• • 2009 – Rotterdam Caterpillar Attack Leaves A Lot Of Gross Aftermath

CatterpilarVideo: YouTube

A massive caterpillar infestation in the Dutch city went particularly bad for one automobile owner – their car was completely covered from top to bottom in silk webbing. The bugs had apparently devoured a tree and needed something to do while they digested, so they glued a car to the ground.

• • 2000-2008 – The Return of the Mormon Cricket

MormonPhoto: BLMOregon / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

For a large part of the aughts, Nevada was infested by Mormon crickets, gigantic bugs that could grow up to three inches long. The insects devour crops (hence their name, as Mormon settlers in the 1840s were plagued by them), and can climb over walls and swarm anything in their path. The bug infested Nevada from about 2000 through 2008, when they began to decline – only to return in 2014 thanks to extreme drought conditions.

• • 2006 – Gigantic Yellow Jacket Nests Take Hold Of A Small Alabama Town

JacketPhoto: MSVG / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Enormous nests of yellow jackets started popping up in barns, cars, and rural buildings all over Alabama in 2006. The reasons why these “super-colonies” started to appear weren’t clear, but could be linked either to increasing heat and drought conditions, or some kind of turf war between queens. Whatever the case, the nests were GIGANTIC – many were found that were the size of cars.

Since then, even bigger yellow jacket nests have been found in Florida and South Carolina.

• • 1985 – Africanized Bees Are Not Joking Around

BeesPhoto: Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Like so many bug infestations, the panic over Africanized bees started with human activity. In the 1950’s, specially bred honey bees were introduced into the wild in Brazil to increase honey-making. But within a few years, a number of swarms escaped and made their way north. When the so-called Killer Bees showed up in Texas in 1985, the media panicked. While there’s a real concern about the bees overwhelming the hives of more docile honeybees, the panic over people being stung to death is overstated. About one person a year is killed by Africanized bees, usually because they antagonized them.

• • 1980 – Texas Mosquito Swarm Does Not Care About Southern Hospitality

TexasPhoto: Alvesgaspar / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

While individual mosquito bites aren’t much more than a nuisance, billions of them can be a plague of Biblical proportions. In August and September 1980, a Texas farmer faced down just such a swarm when billions of long-dormant mosquito eggs were brought to life by the saltwater flood that a hurricane brought in. They started killing his cattle and horses by draining them of blood, one bite at a time. It was estimated that about 4 million bites brought each animal down, and the infestation lasted weeks before it petered out.

• • 1902 – Volcano Snake Blitz Sounds Horrible Probably Because It Was

SnakePhoto: cluczkow / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Located on the French island of Martinique, the volcano Mt. Pelee had been relatively quiet, until it massively erupted in 1902. The combination of belching ash and tremors from the eruption caused a huge infestation of snakes and bugs to descend on the villages around the cone. 50 people were killed in the ensuing panic – a pittance compared to the 20,000 killed in the island’s largest city, St. Pierre.

The Worst Bug Infestations in History

Mike Rothschild 

Bug swarms and bug infestations are among the most vile experiences a person can go through. Imagine millions of insects flying or crawling at you, swarming, stinging, biting, and most of all, dying and leaving putrid remains. Even talking about them gives people the willies, and these scary insects are incredibly common, everywhere in the world, throughout history.

History is riddled with tales of insect swarms – hordes of locusts, flies, mosquitoes, and bees making life hellish for anyone in their path. But with climate change leading to warmer winters, the natural cold snaps that get rid of huge numbers of bugs are getting more and more mild. This means more bugs are surviving to be born, and these bugs swarm when unleashed on the world. Combine this with invasive species being introduced into places where they have no natural predator, and you have the perfect conditions for bad news.

Read on to learn more about the bug swarms that were terrible and awful be caught in. These insect infestations are sure to make your skin crawl!

2017 – A Swarm Of Mosquitoes Is Bothering Workers At A New York Airport

Video: YouTube

Planes aren’t the only thing flying into LaGuardia Airport in New York. There’s a huge mosquito problem at the airport, and is driving the workers there wild. In 2016, the airport started a billion dollar facelift. And once construction started, workers said the mosquitoes started causing major issues.

“It’s very annoying,” one worker told DNA Info .

2016 – Gypsy Moths Invade Rhode Island And Wreak Havoc On Trees

Video: YouTube

In the summer of 2016, gypsy moths invaded parts of the East Coast, including Rhode Island. According to government officials, millions of little caterpillars descended on the tiny state and destroyed native trees to the area. It’s particularly alarming because these creatures are an invasive species, and if they keep coming back in such large numbers, the could cause serious damage.

2015 – Millions Of Spiders Spin A Web Of Doom Around Memphis

Video: YouTube

In November 2015, large swaths of a neighborhood in Memphis, TN, were covered by a substance that looked like frost or maybe morning dew, but was really (barf) sprawling spiderwebs as big as a half mile long. Experts seemed totally fine with this – apparently the dispersal of millions (millions!) of tiny spiders in the area is just a case of nature doing its thing.

Residents, however, were less than thrilled. “They’re in the air, flying everywhere. They all on the house, on the side of the windows.” Eek.

2015 – Burning Man Mystery Bugs Just Wanna Hear Some Music Too, You Guys

Video: YouTube

The 2015 edition of the California desert festival Burning Man featured something besides peace, love, and kind bud – huge swarms of bugs. Festival-goers took to social media to show off infestations of mystery insects that were biting people, emitting a stink, and causing serious sanitation problems. Insect experts identified several types of seed bugs looking for water, and said the welts they were causing weren’t from bites, but from the contents of their stomachs – mustard seed plants that corrode skin.

2014 – Albuquerque Grasshopper Swarm Is So Bad It Can Be Seen On Weather Radar

Video: YouTube

One unforeseen side effect of climate change is an increase in horrible bug infestations. So when Albuquerque was hit hard by a series of hot, dry winters that didn’t get rid of grasshopper eggs, the result was a cloud of insects so dense it was visible on radar and looked like rain. It was the worst outbreak in 20 years in the New Mexico town.

2014 – Rasberry Crazy Ants Eat Houston Alive

Video: YouTube

Houston exterminator Tom Rasberry is credited with discovering a horrifically destructive ant able to eat basically anything. The three millimeter long bugs (so-named for their erratic movements) probably came to the Southwest from South America in the ’30s, and in the past few years have cut a swath of chewy destruction through Houston, eating wiring, laptops, water pumps, and electrical systems. They’re now in over two dozen states.

2013 – Terrifying Asian Giant Hornets Kill Dozens In China

Photo: KENPEI / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Found mostly in China and Japan (and inching its way across Europe), the Asian giant hornet can grow up to an inch and a half long, can fly 25 mph, and cover up to 60 miles in one day. Oh, and they have stings that dissolve flesh and shut down kidneys, and leave welts the size of bullet wounds. One giant hornet outbreak in China in 2013 killed 42 people , and it’s estimated that several dozen people in Japan pass each year from giant hornet stings.

2013 – Oklahoma Cricket Swarm Is Stuff Of Biblical Proportions

Video: YouTube

In summer 2013, large parts of Oklahoma were infested by a gigantic cricket swarm, leaving shocked residents to deal with piles of rotting, stinky cricket remains. As with many other bug outbreaks, the culprit was drought, which created a hot and dry environment perfect for incubating huge numbers of the bugs – which were then nurtured by larger than normal rains in late spring. The stench of billions of dead crickets was said to be nauseating.

2013 – Cicada Invasion Brought Billions Of Noisy Bugs Like A Plague

Video: YouTube

Every 13 to 17 years, the US East Coast and Midwest are swarmed by a gigantic infestation of billions of cicadas, ear-splittingly loud bugs that gestate underground, and emerge to mate in local trees. Since different broods spend different lengths of time in different parts of the world, chances are pretty good that there’s an invasion going on somewhere every year.

2012 – Sadiya Tarantula Invasion Is The Stuff Of Nightmares

Video: YouTube

In 2012, a cultural festival in Sadiya, India turned into a nightmare when it was swarmed by thousands of giant, tarantula-like spiders. Researchers weren’t able to ascertain exactly what species the spiders were, but they were big, poisonous, and caused a panic among festival-goers. Numerous injuries were sustained by people frantically trying to get out of the way, and two people passed from spider bites.

However, there’s some speculation that the attack was either a simple snake bite, or a hoax. Multiple researchers cast doubt on whether the bites came from “mysterious spiders” or regular spiders or snakes. What actually happened remains unknown.

Silverfish

falling to #13 on

The Grossest Bugs on Earth

2011 – Iowa Midge “Bugnado” Makes Dangerous Road Conditions For Drivers

Photo: treegrow / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

In 2011, a “bugnado” of midges descended upon rural Iowa. The aquatic insects aren’t harmful to humans, but the gigantic piles of dead bodies can make roads slick, especially since the males die almost immediately after inseminating the females. Recent flooding turned fallow fields into a perfect breeding ground, and breed they did – in huge numbers.

2011 – Australian Beetles Claim The Life Of At Least One

Video: YouTube

A beetle infestation in Australia’s Gold Coast claimed a human victim when a 61 year old bicycle rider skidded into a huge pile of dead bugs, and wiped out. He broke multiple ribs, his collarbone, and his hip – leaving him bedridden for six weeks. But the beetles were already dead, so they didn’t care.

2011 – Money-Eating Termites Eat 220,000 Rupees In India

Photo: Gnilenkov Aleksey / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

A bank manager in Lucknow, India got the shock of his life when he opened up a steel chest deep in the bowels of his bank to find a swarm of termites eating the cash inside. The insects managed to devour over $220,000 worth of rupees – and it’s not the first time it had happened at banks in India. Needless to say, customers were unhappy with their hard-earned cash being gobbled up by bugs.

2010 – New York City Bedbug Infestation Makes Everyone Itch

Photo: Macroscopic Solutions / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

NYC’s famed bedbug invasion began in the late aughts, and not in poorer areas of the city, but in elite, wealthy enclaves. International travelers brought the bugs back, and soon they were everywhere, swarming everything from private homes to stores to movie theaters. The bugs peaked in the brutal summer of 2010, but measures taken by the city, including laws forcing landlords to make bedbug inspections, have curbed them.

2009 – Rotterdam Caterpillar Attack Leaves A Lot Of Gross Aftermath

Video: YouTube

A massive caterpillar infestation in the Dutch city went particularly bad for one automobile owner – their car was completely covered from top to bottom in silk webbing. The bugs had apparently devoured a tree and needed something to do while they digested, so they glued a car to the ground.

2000-2008 – The Return of the Mormon Cricket

Photo: BLMOregon / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

For a large part of the aughts, Nevada was infested by Mormon crickets, gigantic bugs that could grow up to three inches long. The insects devour crops (hence their name, as Mormon settlers in the 1840s were plagued by them), and can climb over walls and swarm anything in their path. The bug infested Nevada from about 2000 through 2008, when they began to decline – only to return in 2014 thanks to extreme drought conditions.

2006 – Gigantic Yellow Jacket Nests Take Hold Of A Small Alabama Town

Photo: MSVG / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Enormous nests of yellow jackets started popping up in barns, cars, and rural buildings all over Alabama in 2006. The reasons why these “super-colonies” started to appear weren’t clear, but could be linked either to increasing heat and drought conditions, or some kind of turf war between queens. Whatever the case, the nests were GIGANTIC – many were found that were the size of cars.

Since then, even bigger yellow jacket nests have been found in Florida and South Carolina.

1985 – Africanized Bees Are Not Joking Around

Photo: Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Like so many bug infestations, the panic over Africanized bees started with human activity. In the 1950’s, specially bred honey bees were introduced into the wild in Brazil to increase honey-making. But within a few years, a number of swarms escaped and made their way north. When the so-called Killer Bees showed up in Texas in 1985, the media panicked. While there’s a real concern about the bees overwhelming the hives of more docile honeybees, the panic over people being stung to death is overstated. About one person a year is killed by Africanized bees, usually because they antagonized them.

1980 – Texas Mosquito Swarm Does Not Care About Southern Hospitality

Photo: Alvesgaspar / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

While individual mosquito bites aren’t much more than a nuisance, billions of them can be a plague of Biblical proportions. In August and September 1980, a Texas farmer faced down just such a swarm when billions of long-dormant mosquito eggs were brought to life by the saltwater flood that a hurricane brought in. They started killing his cattle and horses by draining them of blood, one bite at a time. It was estimated that about 4 million bites brought each animal down, and the infestation lasted weeks before it petered out.

1902 – Volcano Snake Blitz Sounds Horrible Probably Because It Was

Photo: cluczkow / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Located on the French island of Martinique, the volcano Mt. Pelee had been relatively quiet, until it massively erupted in 1902. The combination of belching ash and tremors from the eruption caused a huge infestation of snakes and bugs to descend on the villages around the cone. 50 people were killed in the ensuing panic – a pittance compared to the 20,000 killed in the island’s largest city, St. Pierre.

ranker.com

AUTHOR PROFILE