There is much debate concerning which insects can and cannot kill people. We have all overheard arguments between people regarding this subject. It is not uncommon for some people to make dubious claims about insects that eat human flesh. We all know that flesh-eating insects exist in the movies, but what about in real life? Of course, there exists many insect species that consume rotting flesh. Many people have developed a macabre interest in the bugs that consume human corpses buried in the ground, but are there any insect species that enjoy consuming the flesh of living humans or animals? Many insects, such as maggots and dermestes beetles, regularly consume rotting flesh, and a few insect species, such as botflies and army ants, are capable of eating through human tissue.
Dermestes beetles are tiny insects native to North America. These insects usually grow to lengths of .2 to .4 inches. These beetles are well known as eaters of postmortem flesh, and forensic investigators often extract important information from these insects when they are found infesting the bodies of murder victims.
Botflies, on the other hand, have no problem with eating the flesh of living humans, and they do this by using mosquitoes to their advantage. Botflies lay their eggs on mosquitoes. These same mosquitoes will then transfer the botfly eggs to human skin. Soon thereafter, maggots will emerge from these eggs and climb below the surface of a human’s skin where it will continue to grow. After a few weeks, the maggots will then eat their way through the human skin before emerging as adult botflies. Botflies can cause infection and leave lasting scars on human skin. In more severe cases, botflies can cause brain swelling which could lead to death if treatment is not sought in time. Army ants are considered a serious threat to both animals and humans in regions where the insects are native. Army ants have two front teeth and claws, which they will not hesitate to use. Worst of all, army ants inject a highly acidic venom below the skin’s surface. This venom acts like an acid which loosens up the top layers of skin so that these ants can tear away at flesh with ease. Be sure to avoid these creatures when visiting exotic locations.
Have you ever visited a region where army ants were native?