8 Terrifying Animal Swarms Created by Human Stupidity

Animals aren't extremely ambitious. Sometimes, however, all they need is a little helpful prodding in the right direction to start conquering everything around them like warlords.

As we first pointed out a couple of weeks ago, human stupidity is always there to give them a helping hand. And where those animals threaten us with their downright creepy intelligence, it's sheer numbers and destructive power that makes us fear the ...

#8. Starlings

In the late 19th century, a group called the American Acclimatization Society released about a hundred starlings in New York City's Central Park as part of a project to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays into America. Even knowing nothing about starlings, you may recognize this as an idea that is both baffling and terrible.

"I have no idea why I'm doing this."

But if you do know something about starlings, you know they're considered a nuisance because of their habit of roosting in flocks of several million, and then tearing through crops like locusts. The starling is one of the most deeply resented birds in the avian community.

Next to Woody Woodpecker.


The released birds went on to reproduce like mad, increasing their numbers to somewhere around 200 million. By all accounts, starlings are natural terrors. They will force other birds out of their nests and eat their eggs. They swarm in those massive flocks, just eating absolutely everything they can fit in their beaks, stealing food from other species and wreaking havoc on agriculture.

And God help you if you have food left out in the open -- one feedlot in the U.S. had over 200,000 starlings lining almost every spare surface at one time, leading us to wonder why the National Guard wasn't contacted.

This is nothing a flame thrower can't fix.

In 1960, a Lockheed Electra crashed into Boston Harbor seconds after takeoff when 20,000 starlings flew into its engine, killing 62 people on board and proving that the starling's lust for seed is matched only by its thirst for blood.

Thanks, Shakespeare.

"Next, we'll introduce all of Christopher Marlowe's venereal diseases to America."

#7. Anoplolepis Gracilipes, aka the Yellow Crazy Ant

Think about your bedroom. It's about, what, 10 feet across? The yellow crazy ant is taking over that much land, each day, every day.

The crazy ant lives up to its name because of its tendency to shake and twitch like a mental patient, and also for its strange habit of collecting tin cans in a shopping cart and yelling at random people on the street [citation needed]. One day some of the ants managed to stow away on some trucks and wound up on Christmas Island. They multiplied, and multiplied, and are currently spreading at a rate of three meters per day.

We're like Godzillas to them. If Godzilla was completely powerless and incredibly vulnerable to our most basic weapons.

Strangely, Christmas Island was already famous for being home to millions of aptly named Christmas Island red crabs, who once a year migrate across the island in groups of several million.

So that means the island is now known specifically for being full of tiny creatures with lots of legs that you want to kill with a hammer.


Those first ants that crawled off the trucks went on to form several super colonies on the island, creating the greatest concentration of ants ever recorded anywhere on Earth. Over 30 percent of Christmas Island now belongs to the ants.

Viva la revolution!

And when we say "belongs to the ants" we mean it in the most absolute terms. They're so overwhelming and ravenous that no other living creatures are able to survive in areas that have been infected by the ants, literally leaving them devoid of any other life.

As you can imagine, the ants are utterly devastating to the environment, eating the crabs and becoming bigger and stronger in the process.

That's the difference between the mass of migrating crabs the island is used to and this infestation of ants; the crabs actually don't harm anyone and take over the island for only a few weeks of the year. The ants are slowly and methodically taking over the entire land mass and will never leave, ever.

The crabs also used to spread seeds with their burrowing, but the ants have put a stop to that, dramatically affecting the way the forests are growing and will continue to grow. The ants might as well carry flamethrowers and drive bulldozers.

Luckily, they can't reach the pedals.

Not that crabs can't do their share of damage ...

#6. Red King Crab

You may recognize these humongous Alaska-native crabs from Deadliest Catch. Well, hell, who could resist having more huge, delicious crab in our waters?

That's enough meat to feed at least a dozen interns. Maybe more if we throw in the crab.

Thus the Soviet Union introduced the Red King Crab into Russian waters in the 1960s. Crab for everyone!


Red crabs 1) travel in huge, dense packs and 2) are extremely voracious eaters -- they will literally eat everything. So they essentially form one huge, living vacuum cleaner, sucking up so much plankton, fish eggs, fish, mussels, clams, starfish, kelp, barnacles and the like that the areas they pass through are left as barren underwater deserts.

It doesn't help that these guys spread and reproduce at alarming rates. In 20 years, their population went zero to 20 million in the Barents Sea off the coast of northern Russia. They're even starting to invade Norwegian waters in what is essentially a charge of communist crustaceans.

For Mother Russia!

They may be a boon to the new crab fishermen in Norway and Russia, but for the rest of the fishermen, they are the devil incarnate. The crabs not only eat all the things the fishermen are trying to catch but also rip apart fishing nets, eat bait off hooks and generally wave their armored balls in everyone's faces.

For some inexplicable reason, however, the crabs are protected through a diplomatic accord by Norway and Russia, basically making them Lethal Weapon 2 villains with shells.

Which means that, collectively, these guys are Mel Gibson.

#5. Rabbits

Once upon a time, a landowner in Australia named Thomas Austin decided he would like some bunny rabbits. There were none in his country at the time, so he had a dozen rabbits sent to him from England so he could create a local population of the critters for him to hunt, sort of like the movie Predators, only without Topher Grace.

Fast forward to today: Over 300 million rabbits live in Australia. They outnumber humans 15 to 1.

And they all travel in box formation.


Rabbits are Australia's No. 1 cause of plant and animal extinction, literally starving other species to death and eating plants into oblivion. They're also one of the leading causes of soil erosion and crop destruction, costing the continent around $600 million in losses per year and scorching the Earth behind them.

On the plus side? Rabbit-pelt socks are pretty much free.

As a result of the rabbit epidemic, Australia now has a pretty strict customs program, by which we mean nothing gets in or out of Australia, ever. You can't even bring in the peanuts you got on the flight over, even though we're pretty sure peanuts haven't brought about any extinction-level events.

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