Bugs sure are irritating. Always flying around and getting in your face, biting you in the worst possible places, stinging you at the beach or the park. There is almost nothing that can be more aggravating on a nice summer day then being bothered by a bunch of insects. Sometimes they bite you, or even sting you, and the bite swells up or gets infected. Or, you know, kill you. I know that might sound a little extreme but there have been numerous times over the years when insects have killed people. Sometimes it was kind of indirect, like through a plague of some sort, other times the offending insect spread disease through its bite, and another time a huge swarm of angry bees attacked someone and murdered him. Yeah, that sounds awful, doesn’t it?
This isn’t to make you more freaked out when you go to the lake on a family vacation. Of course, we all know most insects just like to get in your face and make you angry. It is how they pass their days. It isn’t like they can read a good book, play World of Warcraft or watch Netflix. Pretty much all they have to do is make you mad. I mean, sure, it is possible that an insect could bite you and you could die a long painful death, and yeah maybe 10,000 angry bees will attack you and try to kill but not likely. So go enjoy that hike! Anyway, it’s time to break out the Raid. Here are 15 people that were killed by bugs.
15. Alex Bestler – Killed By Bees
This one happened just a few months ago, just in case you thought that the bugs had mellowed out recently and were going to leave you alone. In May of this year a hiker named Alex Bestler decided to take a hike in Usery Park in Arizona. This probably seemed to him like a relatively safe thing to do. Not so much. While he was out walking around, enjoying nature, he was attacked by an enormous swarm of bees, apparently for no reason. He was stung more than 1,000 times. Onlookers were said to have tried to help him. I am kind of doubtful of that. I have to admit I don’t know what I would do to ‘help’ someone that was being attacked by a swarm of bees. Maybe just yell something to him? Finally medical arrived and took him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
14. Jeff Hanneman – Slayer Guitarist Died From Spider Bite
In 2013, a spider was the cause of death of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman. While it is true that he actually died of liver failure, the complications from the spider bite that he received while in a hot tub was the deeper cause. According to this article, “In an online letter to fans about Hanneman’s 2011 medical issues, the band said recently that his recovery had been “touch-and-go.” There was talk he would have to have his arm amputated, he was in a medically induced coma for a time and had several operations to remove dead and dying tissue from his arm. He also went through a long period of rehab to regain the strength in his arm.” Jeff was a founding member of Slayer, who are one of the most popular metal bands ever. He died when he was 49.
13. Larry Goodwin – Attacked By 40,000 Bees
So I don’t like being attacked by bees. No one does, really. I can still remember being a kid and getting attacked by one here and there and stung. As an adult now if I see a bee I often take the initiative and try and kill it first. I am talking the nasty stinging kind, not the mellow old bumblebee. But as much as I try and act tough around bees, I don’t think I would be a match for 40,000 of them. Well, neither was Larry Goodwin. The Texas farmer was out working when he was attacked by 40,000 bees. Other people were around, but they were not attacked, just poor Larry was. He tried to get away. I mean of course he did, wouldn’t you? But the bees followed him and kept attacking. He died after being stung over 3000 times.
12. George Porter – Killed By Gnat
As bad as it would be to die from being attacked by 40,000 bees, at least there is some sort of gravitas attached to it. How would it feel to die from being stung on the knee by a gnat? Well you could ask George Porter that, but he would not be able to answer because he is dead. Porter was a fairly well known statistician and economist from England, who worked for the board of trade. He was stung on his knee by a gnat in 1952. This does not sound like a big deal of course, I mean a gnat is pretty much thought of as the most insignificant thing that there is. But it was not so insignificant to Porter; the sting caused mortification, and he died from complications related to it soon after. He was 60-years-old at the time of his death.
11. Skateboarder Andy Kessler – Stung By Wasp
Andy Kessler was not only an excellent skateboarder, but he was good for the sport as well. According to Wikipedia, “Kessler became a guiding force in the design, development, funding and building of skate parks citywide, nationwide and eventually worldwide. He was also a community youth activist who worked with city teens to better themselves, their circumstances, and their urban environment, often in conjunction with the creation of free skating facilities to expend their energies on.” It sounds like he was a pretty awesome dude, which makes what happened to him even sadder. He was visiting a friend in 2009 when he was stung by a wasp. This may not sound like a big deal but it was to Andy. He died from a severe allergic reaction to the sting at the age of 48.
10. Journalist Ray Shaw – Killed By Wasp
Ray Shaw was kind of a big deal. He was the head of a Dow Jones company and was head of American Business Journals – companies that put out numerous newspapers, business journals, and also The Sporting News, Hemmings Motor News, and Nascar Scene, which covers auto racing. He was a very rich guy and had lived a very long and prosperous life. Nothing could stop him. Except for a wasp. Imagine living your whole life just conquering everything you came across and then getting beaten down by a wasp. He was stung in 2009 and suffered a severe allergic reaction and died the next day. He was 75-years-old.
9. Composer Alban Berg – Stung By Unknown Insect
Sometimes it isn’t a known killer that takes these guys down, sometimes it is a rogue unknown insect that does the deed. This was the case when it came to Alban Berg, who was born in Vienna, and was a well-known composer of opera and classical music and a student of Arnold Schoenberg. He was stung by an insect, which led to an abscess and blood poisoning. He died on Christmas Eve in 1935. This may seem odd, but it really is not. Mosquitoes are known to cause around 1,000,000 deaths a year. The majority of these deaths are from Malaria. So hey, next time someone asks you if you want them to spray the back of your legs with Off, I would just play it safe and say yes. Better safe than sorry.
8. Giovanni Villani – Black Plague
Giovanni Villani died of the Black Plague. Cats, dogs, and rats were all bitten by fleas and carried the disease, which spread across Europe. Over 200 million people died of this disease. So you know I could have picked a whole bunch of people for this entry, but I just picked Giovanni. The Black Plague was a particularly nasty way to go and killed a total of 30 to 60 per cent of Europe’s total population. Giovanni was a banker and a politician of the time. He wrote during the plague “The priest who confessed the sick and those who nursed them so generally caught the infection that the victims were abandoned and deprived confession, sacrament, medicine, and nursing … And many lands and cities were made desolate. And this plague lasted till ________.” He left the date blank because he died before it ended.
7. Alfonso Fontanelli – Deadly Insect Sting
Alfonso Fontanelli was kind of an interesting guy. He was a diplomat and a composer in the late 1500s in Italy. At one point he killed a man his wife was having an affair with. Because of this he was banished. Which honestly doesn’t sound so bad. So you kill someone and then they just tell you that you have to leave? Ahhh, the good old days. This did seem to have an affect on him as he would asked God for forgiveness and became a priest. So there you go, all worked out. He killed someone and then became a priest. Well…maybe not. Because while the law of man may have been forgiving; the law of the insects was not. He was stung by an insect and died in 1622, right before he was about to turn 65.
6. Alison Lane – Spider Bite
So I don’t know if any of you arachnophobia types have noticed, but so far there have not been many spiders on this list. This may be kind of surprising as spiders are without a doubt the type of insect that most people are afraid of. So maybe it is just a silly thing to worry about and spiders are not that bad? Maybe you have just been making a big deal out of it and you do not have anything at all to worry about? Oh no… spiders will kill you for sure. In 2015 an award winning charity director named Alison Lane was working with kids in an orphanage in Mexico when she was bitten by a spider. She went into septic shock and had a heart attack. Three weeks later she passed away as a direct result of the spider bite.
5. Max Stirner – Bitten By Insect
Max Stirner was a very well known philosopher from Germany who was extremely influential to many other philosophers after his death. He was best known for his writings on Nihilism, which is the school of thought that says life is meaningless, and Existentialism, which says that the individual is responsible for their own existence. He also was a well known anarchist. He was well known for writing a book called The Ego and His Own. He died after being bitten on the neck by some “unknown winged insect” and he died almost immediately afterwards. Obviously the nihilist in me says his life and death do not matter at all, but the capitalist in me still wants to write about it in the hopes that some of you find it interesting.
4. Kingsmill Key – Blood Poisoning From Insect Bite
Kingsmill Key has one of the coolest names ever. He also was an English cricketer and a really good one at that. His highest score of 281, for Oxford against Middlesex, is still the highest first-class score made. For those of you that are not aware, cricket is a bit like baseball, except not nearly as cool. It has been around in England since the 16th century. He died at the age of 67 from having contracted blood poisoning after an insect bite. I think that as you are reading this it might start to be clear to you that throughout the course of history mosquitoes have killed many more people than murderers have. Obviously, it happens a lot less these days than it used to, but tell that to Kingsmill – he won’t care a whole lot.
3. Eustáquio van Lieshout – Spider Bite
Van Lieshout was a very well known missionary in his day and was also considered a very well-learned and powerful medicine man. His healing powers were considered to be very strong; some even considered him to have magic powers when it came to healing people. One day he was doing his normal thing, which in this case was healing a village of sick children in Brazil. You know, just another day at the office. That is, until a spider came along and bit him. The bite gave him Spotted fever. He did not die right away, and managed to stay alive for quite awhile, but ended up dying from the fever brought on by the spider bite in 1949. Apparently his magical powers only worked on uneducated, impoverished children, and not on himself.
2. Surfer Andy Irons – Dengue Fever
Andy Irons was a great surfer. Over the years he won three world titles, three Quiksilver Pro France titles, two Rip Curl Pro Search titles and 20 elite tour victories, including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing four times from 2002-2006. He was one of the best surfers in the world. Until he was bitten by a mosquito. According to this article, Irons was found dead in a Dallas/Fort Worth hotel room. “He was returning home to Hawaii from Puerto Rico, where he withdrew from a surfing competition due to illness.” Irons had caught Dengue fever while in Portugal. Some reports now say that the Dengue fever thing was just a rumor. He was only 32-years-old at the time of his death.
1. Neville Gardner – Unknown Venomous Insect
Neville Gardner was a diplomat from England. He made it his life’s work to spend his days roaming the world and spreading the word about what a wonderful thing England was, and what it had to offer. This is rather too bad as when visiting the Philippines in 1954, he was bitten by an unknown insect and died within 48 hours. This really should all be a lesson to all of us. While it is tempting to be like Neville and gallivant around the world, we have to remember one thing that is very important: if you stay inside and keep all the doors and windows closed as much as possible, then there is not much chance that bugs will get you. On the other hand, if you go out into the world then there is quite a good chance that bugs will see you, and approach you, and then…all bets are off.