10 Most Incredible Insect Invasions

You don’t fool with Mother Nature! Some of the worst invasions in history have been natural – bugs in particular have brought havoc and destruction to people, places, animals and things for thousands of years.

Introduce a non-native species to a new place and, voila, dramatic and unexpected shifts in the dynamics of the ecosystem are created.

The story of Pharaoh refusing to let the Hebrew people (or Israelites) leave Egypt in the book of Exodus comes to mind when you think of insect invasions. It was written that God created 10 plagues as demonstrations of power and displeasure designed to persuade Pharaoh to free the Israelites. Through Moses, God released a plague of locusts that covered the land and consumed all of the remaining Egyptian crops.

Here is a list of some incredible insect invasions that have confounded people and brought jaw-dropping destruction.

1The insects that ate money

We’ve heard of money-hungry people, but these insects were literally hungry for money!

In 2011, at a bank in the northern town of Lucknow, India, a bank manager opened a steel chest in an old reinforced room. To his shock, he discovered that an army of termites had eaten through 10 million rupees ($222,000) in currency notes stored in the chest at the bank.

The bank manager told the press, “It’s a matter of investigation how termites attacked bundles of currency notes stacked in a steel chest.” The money was put in the chest in January of that year.


2The caterpillars that slimed a car

In 2009, a car in Rotterdam, Holland was “attacked” by thousands of spindle ermine moth caterpillars when they left a giant silk web that literally covered the vehicle.

The caterpillars devoured a tree in a park in the Dutch city and migrated over to a nearby carpark where they spun their webs for protection from wasps and birds before they pupate.

The caterpillars turned to moths about four weeks later and bye-bye caterpillar invasion. But, we do wonder, did the owner of the car have to go to the car wash a bunch of times to get rid of that sticky mess?


3The insect invasion so large it showed up on radar

If you live in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, you might have noticed the grasshopper population has grown. A lot. In 2014, the worst infestation of grasshoppers in twenty years hit this southwestern city.

The air is so dense with bugs that it appears on radar!

As Professor David Richman at New Mexico State University explained: “There wasn’t enough winter to kill the egg pots. Because of the dry winter the eggs survived, hence the outbreak of grasshoppers.

In spite of complaints from the locals, John R. Garlisch, an extension agent at Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service, recommended to just wait out the invasion and not to use pesticides as they would do more harm than good.


4 A "bugnado" of aquatic insects invades Iowa cornfields

It was bound to happen. First, there was Sharknado. Now, there is Bugnado! There is one big difference – the bugnado is real!

In 2011, a cloud of aquatic insects, known as midges, swept across the fields of Iowa. Footage of this ominous cloud of bugs, dubbed a “bugnado,” quickly blew up on social media. Although, the bugnado looked like an evil, crop-destroying invasion, the insects are pretty harmless overall.

These large swarms can be attributed to the males being in reproductive mode. As entomologist Joe Keiper of the Museum of Natural History of Virginia told Weekend Edition Saturday, “The males are essentially nothing more than flying sperm packets. They will fertilize a female and will die and fall to the ground shortly afterward.”

Boy, do a lot of the dead males fall to the ground! There are so many that litter the ground that the roads become slick. So, if you’re in a cornfield somewhere in Iowa, beware of the bugnado of flying sperm packets!


5The beetles that bagged a biker

Beetlemania has hit the Gold Coast in Australia! No, we’re not talking about the Fab Four’s Beatlemania, we’re talking about thousands of water beetles that invaded the east coast of the Australian city in 2011.

Ken Tompkins was riding his bike along the Esplanade at Surfer’s Paradise when he skid into a mound of dead beetles. He shattered his hip, collarbone and ribs and was bedridden for six weeks recovering from his injuries.

Scientists are quite baffled at this bevy of bugs.


6A volcano caused an insect and snake invasion

Volcanos are terrifying. All sorts of scary things come out of an erupting volcano – ash, lava/magma and gasses to name a few – causing a threat to anything in the vicinity of the volcano.How about adding swarms of insects and snakes as additional threats to the vicinity?

In 1902, when Mt. Peleé, a volcano located on French Caribbean island Martinique, became active it spewed sulfurous gasses and ash and caused large tremors in the area. The tremor and ash combo caused by the newly active volcano drove thousands of insects and venomous snakes into the neighboring villages. The snake and insect invasion killed an estimated 50 humans and around 200 animals.
Mt Peleé was one mean volcano! When it erupted, it also obliterated the nearby city St. Pierre. Of approximately 28,000 people in St. Pierre, there were only two known survivors. The eruption is one of history’s worst volcano disasters.


7The ants that eat through electric wiring

Houston, we have a problem – an ant problem! Billions of Rasberry Crazy ants are taking over Texas’ largest city. These red-brown ants are extremely tough critters – they have been known to even go head to head with the dreaded fire ants!

Crazy ants spread at an alarmingly fast rate and seem to be much more interested in electrical equipment than food. They eat through any and every electrical device possible. And chew through insulation, causing short circuits and all sorts of havoc.

Tom Rasberry, the local exterminator credited with discovering these tiny insects, has seen cases in where he’s been in houses and “where every time you took a step you’d literally be stepping on thousands of ants with each step.” There are so many in some areas of infested houses that it looks like the ground is moving. Rasberry also says that the ants invade so quickly that “in no time, a one-acre field can be covered with 15 to 20 billion ants.”

Even NASA’s Houston Headquarters were victims of the crazy ant invasion. Told you that Houston had a problem!


8The cicada invasion that happens every 17 years

If you live on the east coast of the United States, you’ve probably experienced invasions of cicadas. You would know if you experienced the invasion of these bugs because the racket the male cicadas make can be extremely deafening. The buzzing has been measured at being up to 94 ear splitting decibels.

These winged creatures have been biding their time to come to the surface. When in wingless nymph form, cicadas spend 13 to 17 years a few feet underground, sucking on tree roots. They emerge only when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. After a few weeks up in the trees, they will die and their offspring will go underground for another 13 to 17 years.

What do they do when they come up? They have sex. Hence, the loud sound that the males make is a mating call.

Since fifteen broods of the cicada emerge every 13 to 17 years so, somewhere on the east coast every year there is an invasion. We’re talking a HUGE invasion too! Researchers estimate there are 30 billion to 1 trillion cicadas lurking underground waiting to come up at just the right moment.


9The yellow jackets that filled a car

In 2006, insect experts noticed that giant yellow jacket nests have been turning up in old barns, houses and other cavernous places all over southern Alabama.

Specialists said it could have been the result of a mild winter and drought conditions, or multiple queens forcing worker yellow jackets to enlarge their quarters so the queens could be in separate areas (a colony could have multiple queens).

Whatever the case may have been, the nests became super-sized. A nest was discovered coming out of the ground on a roadside near Pineapple, Alabama measuring 5 feet by 4 feet.

Entomologist Dr. Charles Ray at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in Auburn discovered a huge nest that filled the interior of a weathered 1955 Chevy parked in a local barn. A nest that started out the size of an automobile tire quickly spread to fill the entire vehicle, even spreading into the barn, about 300 yards away.

Beware of the yellow and black attack!


10Fish flies block traffic in Minnesota

In 1957, Hastings, Minnesota experienced an incredibly bizarre invasion of fish flies. There were so many of these bugs that they actually caused a drift, wrecking havoc on the local roadways.

Millions of fish flies piled up so high that they created a 2 ½ foot bug-drift in the middle of the local bridge, making the roads slick and preventing cars from getting through.

The police and the fire department were called, but thanks to the effort of the local teen club, the Cavalier Auto Club, motorists were able to get through. The teens spent over an hour pushing automobiles through the mountain of bugs.

We salute you Cavalier Auto Club of 1957!


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