There are bugs worse than the 'murder hornet': Canada's native dangerous pests

(Yahoo Canada via Getty Images)

If you haven't paid attention to the hullabaloo in the news about the asian giant hornet, consider your ignorance as bliss.  

No really. Please, carry on. Why not revisit Daisy, 2017's world's cutest kitten instead? What, the coronavirus isn't terrifying enough for you?

Well then, consider yourself warned. 

To recap, this wicked bug’s nickname is the “Murder Hornet,” and with good reason. Native to East Asia, these fearsome hornets with 5-6 centimetre wingspans that enable them to fly up to 40 kilometres per hour, may have first come to North America by way of Canada, when a group of beekeepers and wildlife scientists found and destroyed a nest of them in Nanaimo. B.C. last year. Despite their freakishly-long wings, most scientists believe they didn't make it here of their own accord and more likely found themselves trapped in shipping containers in Asia, destined to Canada and the U.S.

An astounding five-times bigger than your regular honeybee, the ornery hornets can kill up to 40 of them at a time, by way of their long, powerful mandibles that sprout from their mouths to slice and dice their prey. Further, this One Hornet To Rule Them All also employs a 6mm-long stinger to inject a lethal dose of venom into its victims, even in the case of humans, if stung multiple times.

With all that, it's unlikely you'll have to fend off one of these flying monsters in Canada this summer, more akin to Hollywood than Haliburton. In fact, you should probably spend time protecting yourself against these five native pests of a less menacing calibre, yet likely more of a threat to your health as the weather warms.

Ticks

Unlike the Asian Giant Hornet, Canada's most deadly insects tend to fly under the radar, as is the case with ticks. Ticks are tiny, but that's the problem. Often found in wooded areas and very hard to spot due to their tiny size and dark colouration, a few species of ticks carry Lyme disease, including the deer tick. When an infected species such as the deer tick attaches to your skin, it can unleash deadly bacteria into your bloodstream that causes Lyme disease. Untreated Lyme Disease can cause symptoms, such as chronic joint inflammation, heart rhythm irregularities and cognitive defects.

More on how to protect yourself from Lyme Disease.

The Northern Black Widow Spider 

Even though they like to linger near humans beneath fenceposts and backyards, getting bitten by one of these creepy crawlers this summer is unlikely. That said the black widow spider seems more akin to some deadly arachnoid found deep within the amazon. Commonly found in southern parts of western Canada and Ontario (yet increasingly, further north due to climate change), this spider, with distinct red markings on its back, can unleash a venom 15 times more potent than a rattlesnake.

The Hobo Spider 

Even creepier than the Northern Black Widow Spider, although less deadly. The hobo spider can be found skulking in a Canadian basement near you. This charming arachnoid is fond of lying in wait for its prey, within cracks in walls and piles of wood. Although the hobo spider's venom is unlikely to be fatal for humans, it may lead to necrosis of the skin. Hooray!

More on the Hobo Spider.

Rats

And lest we the forget rat. Unquestionably the O.G. pest when it comes to transmitting virulent communicable diseases (with honourable mention to the rat's historical assistant, the flea). The rat's greatest hits include the bubonic plague, hantavirus and over 30 other horrible afflictions. Ever the cunning opportunists, rats have migrated to Canada's urban residential neighbourhoods in greater numbers to dine on our garbage now that restaurants and bars have closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Bed Bugs

'Ewww!' is the first utterance from any sane person's mind at the thought of snuggling up with these tiny creepy crawlies all night long.

Yet, with more homeless and low-income Canadians huddled together inside increasingly crowded motels and shelters across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, bed bug (a.k.a. Cimex lectularius) populations are growing in Canadian cities, and while bed bugs themselves aren't particularly dangerous (although they do leave red, itchy and occasionally painful bite marks on human skin) , even the thought of sleeping among these unwanted bed buddies should send a chill up most any sane person's spine.