Australia has a reputation for being a land full with creatures who want you dead. While you may think to be more concerned with snakes than anything else down under, it appears that you should be more concerned about the skies.
A recent study that looked at which poisonous animals bit and stung the most individuals in Australia over a 13-year period discovered that bees and wasps are by far the most prolific enemies. Between 2000 and 2013, the striped foes hospitalized over 12,300 individuals, 27 of whom died. This is double the number of people hospitalised for snake bites, yet the danger noodles also killed 27 people. Ticks and ants were responsible for five deaths, while the dreaded box jellyfish killed three individuals.
Almost 42,000 people were taken to hospitals after being bitten by poisonous critters, most of them were suffering from anaphylactic shock, and 64 people died during the research period. It should come as no surprise that men aged 30 to 35 were the most likely to be bitten. What is striking is that more than half of the fatalities happened at home, and nearly two-thirds occurred in metropolitan cities rather than rural areas.
The large incidence of deaths in urban settings, notably by bees, might simply be due to misplaced fear. “Perhaps it’s because bees are so harmless that most people don’t fear them in the same way they fear snakes,” co-author Dr Ronelle Welton stated. “Without a prior history of allergy, you may get bitten and, even if nothing occurs the first time, you’ve established an allergic sensitivity.”
The survey only looked at poisonous animal deaths, therefore sharks and crocodiles, which are widely regarded as the most hazardous antipodean animals, were excluded. But how do they stack up? Over the same time period, there were 26 shark-related deaths, while the world’s largest reptiles took 19 poor souls, demonstrating that you should be more afraid of insects and snakes.
But what is more lethal than any of these creatures? Horses, it appears. It turns out that the dangerous equines murdered 74 individuals throughout the 13-year research period, more than all the poisonous critters combined, or sharks and crocodiles combined.
Other factors, of course, have an impact on these findings. People are more likely to interact with a horse than with a jellyfish or a crocodile, for example. However, it demonstrates how wrong some of our anxieties may be. Fear the bees, or at the very least follow the advise given to the rest of Australia’s wildlife and leave them alone to do their job.