Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Mother Nature doesn’t like the fact that humans are pretty much everywhere. We are now the dominant species on the planet, the one that takes up the most space and consumes the most resources. We like to think that no matter what happens, we are always in control. But Mother Nature likes to remind us of who is really in charge, and that’s done by having us cross paths with dangerous animals that can, and do, kill humans. While these dangerous animals come in all shapes and sizes, it’s the smaller ones that you really have to watch out for. After all, it’s one thing to walk into lion territory in Africa, cross paths with a Grizzly Bear in Alaska, or swim in shark-infested waters (at least in those circumstances you have a chance of escaping by being able to see where the threat is and making your next move accordingly), but if that threat is smaller than the size of your hand, is hard to see, or moves around so quickly that your body can’t react fast enough, then, well, you’re screwed. Sometimes knowledge is the best defense against something you might not be able to stomp on or swat away with your hand. On this list, we’ll look at fifteen tiny animals that can kill you if you’re not careful enough.
15. The Poison-Dart Frog
Poison Dart Frogs get their names from their extremely toxic skin. This owes from the insects they eat, which includes many species of venomous ants and mites. Because of this, touching the frog’s skin or having its secretions enter one’s bloodstream could lead to serious illness. One species of frog, for example, has a toxin in its skin called Pumiliotoxin 251D, which can lead to, among other things, convulsions, cardiac arrest and death. Of course, many of the Native tribes living in the same place as these frogs have come up with an ingenious tool to hunt down prey and attack others. They’ve been known to coat their darts with these animals’ toxic secretions, hence the name ‘poison DART frog’.
14. The Stonefish
The Stonefish is one of the ultimate trolls of the natural world. It’s a master of camouflage, and from a distance, looks like an ordinary rock one would find underwater. But this ambush predator also boasts another title: World’s Most Venomous Fish. If stepped on (which can actually happen easily, as this fish can survive for 24 hours on land), the Stonefish releases toxic spikes located on its back. While only one person has ever died from a stonefish sting, the actual sting is said to be extremely painful. Some people have been known to pour boiling water onto the wound to try and dull the pain. So, to answer the age-old question, ‘when is a rock, not a rock?’ It’s when that rock is actually a stonefish that could kill you if you step on it.
13. The Deathstalker Scorpion
The Deathstalker is, on average, 2.3 inches long, but that doesn’t take away from its lethal power. This tiny scorpion is one of the most dangerous arachnids in the world, capable of killing children and elderly persons very easily. It’s so dangerous, in fact, that even if you’re a healthy person, every sting from this animal is considered a medical emergency. This is because this scorpion’s sting is so powerful that it’s resistant to most antivenoms, so one needs an exceptionally strong dose to help someone that gets stung. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this tiny beast’s sting can lead to horrifying symptoms, including anaphylaxis, pancreatitis, and pulmonary edema (fluid in your lungs). Because of this, one should always wear heavy shoes when walking in sandy areas.
12. The Blue-Ringed Octopus
Despite being the size of a golf ball, the Blue-ringed Octopus packs a powerful punch. It’s one of several animals whose body contains the infamous tetrodotoxin, the same as found in the pufferfish. This toxin can kill an adult human very easily, and one blue-ringed octopus has enough venom to kill up to 26 adults within minutes. But that isn’t the worst part. The toxin found inside this tiny octopus leads to almost instant paralysis of the entire body. It’s one of the most horrifying situations imaginable. Picture yourself being completely aware of your body and surroundings, but also being completely unable to call for help, move, and in some situations, breathe. This is, in fact, worse than drowning. At least when drowning you can fight the urge to breathe and try to find air. With this animal’s bite, your only option is to hope help or death comes quickly.
11. The Brown Recluse Spider
These tiny spiders are found throughout the midwestern United States, from Texas in the south to Illinois in the north. Though they try to avoid people whenever possible (hence their name), when they do bite, it can cause serious problems and could kill children with ease. Their bites contain several dangerous chemical compounds that can cause severe damage. Not only does this spider’s bite cause typical reactions (vomiting, nausea, muscle and joint pain), but it can also cause necrosis, better known as skin and cell death. So for those of you living in that stretch of land in the U.S., you’d best check as many dry places as possible to make sure you don’t cross paths with these spiders. We’d recommend you check all boots, gloves, woodpiles, dressers, clothes, bedsheets, picture frames, toilets…basically everywhere. If you can, try and grow a third eye in the back of your head so that they don’t crawl up the back of your chair while you read this.
10. The Bullet Ant
Though the venom found in this species of ant isn’t strong enough to kill you, if you’re unfortunate enough to get stung, you’ll wish it was. Bullet Ants get their name from their unbelievably-painful sting. Entomologist Justin O. Schmidt created a pain index that sought to determine which insects have the most painful sting (which he tested by letting himself get stung, proving that he has testicles made of adamantium). He concluded that the Bullet Ant’s sting has a rating of 4+ on a scale of 1-4. Schmidt described the Bullet Ant’s sting as “like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel”, and noted the pain from a single sting can last anywhere from 5-24 hours. If you wanted any more reasons to believe that ants are our biggest enemies, look no further than this.
9. The Cone Snail
For those out there that love scuba diving and enjoy picking up shells, this one’s for you. These snails are extremely venomous and attack prey/predators with a razor-sharp harpoon that can pierce human skin and most kinds of scuba suits. Their venom is highly toxic and can lead to multiple problems developing at the same time. Victims can experience symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, dysphagia, cyanosis, and possibly seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiovascular collapse. All of this from a single, tiny snail with a beautiful-looking shell. But that isn’t the worst part: you’re guaranteed to suffer through these symptoms and possibly more because there is no antivenom or cure for cone snail venom. Your only chance at survival depends on how smart the people around you are, and how much you believe in miracles.
8. Siafu/Driver Ants
This is what a real-life juggernaut looks like. Driver ants are literally an unstoppable force when on the march. These insects rarely make a permanent home, preferring to march in search of food. And when they march, they take down anything and everything in their way, including possibly humans. These ants, especially the soldiers, have extremely powerful jaws that bite down so hard that they’re almost impossible to remove. Local African tribes have even been known to use these soldiers’ heads as emergency sutures when dealing with wounds, because they have such a strong hold. That said, this army of ants is still capable of devouring enormous animals without much difficulty. There are reports of driver ants attacking and devouring animals as big as horses, which shouldn’t be surprising when there can be up to 50,000,000 ants in one army.
7. Widow Spiders
Widow Spiders are found all over the world, and are known for their incredibly potent venom. They get their names for a habit that’s believed to be more common among this species than any other spider. The larger females, the ones with the signature red markings, black bodies and deadly venom, are known to eat their male mates after courting, thus earning them the name ‘black widow’. Despite being very small (measuring 13mm in length at most), Widow Spider venom is still potentially fatal to humans. The bites can lead to a wide range of symptoms, ranging from swelling and intense localized pain, to severe sweating, wild changes in blood pressure and pulse and deformity of red blood cells. Thus, it’s best to take as much care as possible when checking in places near to the ground, especially in shoes or next to small structures like shelves and frames. Widow spiders like to make their nests there and could bite if disturbed.
6. Africanized Bees
Many people are terrified of bees and other flying insects because of their tendency to swarm and buzz around, waiting for the perfect opportunity to sting. Sadly, for those people, things only get worse with Africanized Bees. These are the result of a cross-breeding experiment in South America that led to an ultra-aggressive bee species that has already killed over 1,000 people and countless more animals. What makes these bees different from ‘regular bees’ is their increased defensiveness. Africanized bees are more likely to swarm when threatened, are likely to do so in higher numbers than normal bees, and are fiercely territorial. Some reports indicated Africanized bees chasing people up to 400 meters before turning away. Worse, they have also been known to wait for people trying to escape them by jumping into water to resurface for air before stinging them even more.
5. Brazilian Wandering Spiders/Banana Spiders
If you live in South America, you might be familiar with this horrifying creature. Not only is it a notoriously-aggressive species that tends to wander into human homes (hence its name), but it also boats another title: World’s Most Venomous Spider. These small spiders have a leg span of about 6 inches at most, but their fangs are still large enough to pierce human skin when agitated. When bitten, these spiders’ bites can cause loss of muscle control and serious breathing problems and asphyxiation. It can also lead to disruptions in serotonin levels, which could cause severe pain. Finally, this spider’s bite is much worse if you’re a man because it can cause priapism. This condition causes painful erections that can last for hours and could even lead to impotence. So be careful when you buy bananas imported from Brazil; these awful creatures have been known to hang around banana plantations.
4. The Mosquito
Mosquitoes are probably the most annoying animals on the planet, constantly biting people whenever they venture outside during warm months. But being the bane of cottage-goers and outdoor-lovers everywhere isn’t why it’s on this list. The mosquito’s here because it kills more people than any other animal on the planet. The mosquito is a known carrier of several diseases and viruses that are fatal to humans, most of which they spread by constantly injecting their needle-like mouths into human skin. Among the various life-threatening illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes include: malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile Virus, the Zika virus, Elephantiasis, among other things. Malaria alone kills about 1 million people per year, and infects many more, making these insects the biggest natural threat to humans on the planet.
3. The Irukanji Jellyfish
This is the smallest creature on this list, measuring only 1 cubic centimeter in size. But this near-microscopic beast is also one of the most terrifying on the entire planet due to the sheer danger of its venom. Not only does it cause the usual symptoms of a jellyfish sting – nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain and hypertension, just to name a few – but the Irukandji Jellyfish also has a psychological effect on sting victims. This effect, known as Irukandji Syndrome, causes the sting victims to suffer ‘a feeling of impending doom’. In other words people stung by these animals become so convinced that they’re going to die that they try to convince doctors to kill them to put them out of their misery. A jellyfish with the power to convince people they’re going to die…what has the world come to?
2. The Asian Giant Hornet
If you think ordinary wasps are bad, you should turn away now, because now we’re getting into real nightmare territory. The Asian Giant Hornet (known locally as the Yak-killer hornet because of its powerful sting) averages around 45mm (or just shy of 2 inches) in length. This is enormous for a flying insect of any kind, but that’s not the end of it. You see, this beast has a horrifying sting. It’s stinger alone is 6mm long, and when one wasp stings, it sends out a pheromone for others to come and sting the same target. As if that weren’t bad enough, the sting contains chemicals that can cause skin necrosis in humans. Simply put, this hornet’s sting can dissolve human tissue and make skin rot. Forget swatting them away; if you see these things approaching, grab a flamethrower.
1. The Sea Wasp/Box Jellyfish
The sea wasp is the single-most venomous creature in the world. It can be found off the coast of Australia (a.k.a. the land where every animal exists solely to f**k with humans) and can kill an adult within five minutes. And we’re not just talking about an average person or someone with a weakened immune system; we mean a healthy, active adult. For example, imagine yourself as a scuba diver off the Australian coast. You’re deep underwater, when you suddenly feel as if someone had branded you with a hot iron. You turn, and see the feint outline of a jellyfish swimming away from your exposed bare feet. Panicked, you do your best to swim back to your nearby boat as quickly as possible. But less than five minutes later, you feel your heart give out and you suffer cardiac arrest in the water before anyone can even help you. That is what can happen if you get stung by this nearly-invisible monster of the sea.