Many of us are used to the idea that some insects might be toxic or poison, but did you know that some insects are chemically dangerous?
Blister Beetles – Blister beetles are a family of beetles that contain a chemical that when squished, can cause a burn on our skin and a blister to form. For some of these beetles, they only have to be startled or fear predation to release their chemicals. These beetles not only cause a blister on our skin, but because hey are primarily plant feeders, they are often ingested by livestock and can cause severe injury to the intestinal and digestive tracks. In severe cases, ingestion of blister beetles may cause livestock death. There are over 100 different types of blister beetles in Texas.
People are mostly injured when the blister beetle gets on our clothing and we injure it or kill it. Then the chemicals soak into our clothing or onto our skin. Blistering can be severe and painful and put people at risk for secondary health problems such as infection.
Bombardier Beetles are a little bit different from blister beetles, though the result can be the same. Bombardier beetles have two glands in their anus. When started or under attack, they shoot out, from these glands, two streams of liquids. When those liquids meet they form a caustic and chemically hot acid. If it gets on your skin you will know it immediately as the chemical can reach the boiling point on contact.
These beetles can also cause significant damage to livestock if ingested and many are found in grass and can be accidently consumed as livestock grazes.
Ants – Ants are related to bees and wasps and as such, most species have stingers. However, they also have formic acid and when you squish an ant, you smell that odd odor. This is the acid. It can cause burns but only if left on the skin for long periods of time. There are species of ants that have venom that is so strong you will think you are dying. The Bullet Ant is native to the tropics and if stung by one of those, it is said that it feels like you have been shot. We don’t have those in Texas yet. Perhaps the worst ant in Texas is the Fire Ant, whose sting makes you feel as though your skin is burning.
The formic acid that ants is useful. Blue Jays will sometime roll in a mess of ants. They do this to get the formic acid on their feathers which drives away mites. Centipedes bite an inject toxins too. Then there are the spiders, wasp, and ticks.
Texas is full of insects that have toxins or produce caustic chemical solutions. Outside of the insect realm are arthropods such as millipedes. Millipedes secret a form of cyanide. If you have a pest problem reach out to our professional team. We offer comprehensive pest control solutions that fit your pest problem. We provide service throughout the Bryan and College Station Communities.