Creepiest bug stories of 2013 — so far


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Every once in a while we come across some unwanted trespassers. They find their way into our homes and slink around unnoticed until, well, we notice them. They then meet their end under a heavy boot or get shooed out the front door in a plastic cup.

If you’re lucky, getting rid of insects is as easy as that. But sometimes the situation gets humungous, swarming or downright hairy — literally.

We may just be stepping out of the cold weather, but 2013 has already seen some horrifying bug stories and predictions. Here are three of them.


Periodical cicadas

CicadaThey’re super huge, super noisy and they’re making a super dramatic comeback this year. Meet the periodical cicada, which has spent the past 17 years underground, only to re-emerge in the Mid-Atlantic region this spring, according to the National Pest Management Association. The cicadas will remain above ground for about a month to reproduce, and here’s the good news: Their offspring will not be seen above ground again until 2030.

“Although cicadas may be intimidating with their large size and striking red eyes, the good news is they do not pose any health threats to humans,” said Missy Henriksen, VP public affairs for the NPMA. “The bad news is these pests can appear in the hundreds of thousands per acre and quickly become a nuisance.”

Here are some fun facts about periodical cicadas:

  • They emerge from underground in 13- or 17-year cycles when the temperature 8 inches below the surface reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cicadas are most active during the warmest part of the day.
  • This year’s group is known as the Brood II cicadas, which last emerged in 1996.
  • A female cicada can lay 400 to 600 eggs.
  • Areas with lots of mature trees should see the most cicadas.
  • The next group of 17-year cicadas, Brood III, is expected to emerge in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri in 2014.


Mutant tarantula 

“For most people, the tarantula’s bite is no worse than a bee sting. According to researchers, there has never been a single confirmed human death from a tarantula bite.”

Comforting, National Geographic. But we’d rather not take that chance with this new discovery: a never-before-seen tarantula — named Poecilotheria rajaei — in northern Sri Lanka.

It has a leg span up to 8 inches across, according to Wired, and was found living in the trees. Belonging to the genus Poecilotheria, which are the tiger spiders, this tarantula is arboreal, indigenous to India and Sri Lanka, colorful, fast and venomous.

Read more about the discovery on Wired.com.


Bed bug hysteria

BedBugWe don’t know about you, but we are so over bed bugs. Unfortunately, they’re not over us.

The “2013 Bugs Without Borders Survey,” conducted by the NPMA and the University of Kentucky, found continued high rates of bed bug infestations in the United States.

Here are five findings from the survey:

1. 99.6% of the pest professionals who participated in the survey have treated bed bugs in the past year. This is just a touch higher than the 99% that reported the same in 2011.

2. The majority of bed bug infestations occur in residential settings, including apartments/condominiums and single-family homes.

3. Respondents continue to treat for bed bugs in other places other than private residences:

  • Hotels/motels: 75% (80% in 2011)
  • College dorms: 47% (54% in 2011)
  • Nursing homes: 46% (46% in 2011)
  • Office buildings: 36% (38% in 2011)
  • Schools and day care centers: 41% (36% in 2011)
  • Hospitals: 33% (31% in 2011)
  • Transportation (train/bus/taxi): 21% (18% in 2011)
  • Movie theaters: 10%  (17% in 2011)
  • Retail stores: 15% (21% in 2011)
  • Libraries: 12% (8% in 2011)
  • Restaurants: 7% (6% in 2011)
  • Airplanes: 2% (6% in 2011)
  • Laundromats: 9% (6% in 2011)


4. Two-thirds of respondents pointed to homeowner clutter as the biggest challenge in treating bed bugs. Bed bugs continue to be the most difficult pest to treat, according the 76% of respondents.

5. Bed bugs are not seasonal pests, although 49% of pest professionals find summer to be prime bed bug time.