In 2007, the Belgian government actually deployed the military to fight an invasion of insects. What were they? Giant, mutant ants? The bugs from Starship Troopers? Actually, if you've read the title for this entry, you know that they were caterpillars. But not even space caterpillars. Just regular, squishy, fuzzy caterpillars.
Dear Lord, some madman's finally created the Caterpillar Centipede!
The oak processionary caterpillar might look harmless, even cuddly, but the 63,000 toxin-filled hairs covering their bodies make them a crawling biohazard. A simple gust of wind can carry the weapons throughout the air, causing asthma, skin abrasions, anaphylactic shock, blindness and even death. And we're not talking about a few caterpillars here and there. When this species hatches, it becomes a giant, moving carpet of death.
You know what also walks in formation? An army.
And global warming has only helped them spread faster and farther. Warmer weather in the spring in Europe has made them look north for the expansion of their newly formed empire. Doctors in the U.K. have been warning people to carry emergency inhalers because of the caterpillars' potential to trigger severe asthma attacks.
And a disinclination to bone.
What's worse is that they evolved a genetic resistance to pesticides a century ago. Which is why the Belgian government deployed 24 soldiers armed with flamethrowers in 2007 to take out the menace. That's right -- the only way we know how to fight them is to arm ourselves like Kurt Russell in The Thing.
Don't get us wrong, we as a civilization are in debt to pigs for a lot of things, and most of them are bacon related. But they don't all look like Babe, and some of them would sooner make thin, cured strips out of your belly meat. Feral pigs are hairy, mean-looking beasts currently engaged in a hostile takeover of Australia and the United States.
Drop some napalm, add some OJ and you've got a breakfast buffet.
Weighing up to 400 pounds, they have little to fear from predators and have no problem doling out the occasional ass whipping to humans. And just like their pink, tasty cousins, they eat everything that will fit in their mouths. That's when they're not tearing shit up just for the hell of it. According to the Department of Agriculture, feral swine in the U.S. cause an estimated $800 million in property damage each year, destroying crops, roads, ponds, front yards and everything else, like a bunch of chain-wielding youths moving into the neighborhood. In their wake, they leave this:
In Australia, their incessant rooting, wallowing and tusking has run roughshod over the local ecosystems. According to these guys, "Feral pigs consume bird chicks, reptiles, reptile and bird eggs, frogs, soil organisms, earthworms and other invertebrates." On the rare occasion that they find something they can't eat, they flatten it, just because it pisses them off. As a bonus, the pigs have also been found to be enthusiastic carriers for exotic diseases.
Oh look, they share our hobbies. Golf and destroying the shit out of the environment.
They can be found everywhere in Australia, and in the U.S. they've managed to establish breeding populations in 35 states. And they breed faster than we can kill them -- when Texas declared hunting season for feral swine to be any old time you see one, they found that they weren't making a dent. It was a frustrating realization for the state, marking the first time ever that they were unable to resolve an issue through guns or BBQ.
It was only in 1998 that we discovered that the Asian brown marmorated stink bug had invaded North American shores somehow, showing up in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Since then, it has become a world class agricultural pest in 34 different states. Incidentally, it's just our luck that we should be overrun by something called "stink bugs" rather than, say, those beetles that shit gold.
We're sure they have other talents, like good choreography, but their PR sucks ass.
The stink bugs have no natural enemies, probably because there's nothing that prefers to put "stink bug" on the menu, so there's nothing out there to keep their population in check. That's also why, as they continue to spread west, there doesn't seem to be much standing in their way as they nibble through the nation's orchards. Most insecticides are ineffective against them, so scientists are considering culling their numbers through biological controls and parasite introduction. As though there's any situation that can be improved with "more parasites."
But what's more unsettling is the fact that these things have decided that the place they'd most like to settle down and raise a family is right inside your goddamn house.
"Hello, sir. May I interest you in the latest issue of the Watchtower?"
True to their name, stink bugs will gleefully secrete a noxious goo from their hindparts when threatened, so sucking them up in a vacuum or stamping them indiscriminately will instantly infuse your home with the festive odor of ass.
Far from simply being a foul-smelling annoyance, stink bugs also have a taste for fruit right off the vine, which has taken a $37 million chomp out of the U.S. mid-Atlantic apple crop. What's more, they've apparently sent home for reinforcements. The globular stink bug, also known as the kudzu bug and also from Asia, has arrived stateside to ensure that your home smells like rotten farts all year round.
On the bright side, any burglar is due for one serious case of the willies.
As recently as 1960, the giant Canada goose was thought to be totally extinct, until a few determined specimens were found hanging around Minnesota. Vowing to atone for our extinction addiction, and probably disappointed that the "giant" goose wasn't actually the size of a pterodactyl, we put a breeding program into effect to bring the Canada goose back from the brink. A few short decades later, our efforts have proven a resounding success. So successful, in fact, that now we're trying to kill them before they kill us.
That's gratitude for you.
A population estimate of giant Canada geese reports that there are millions of them now, spread out across the United States and Canada, and that their numbers have increased by 3 percent each year from 1998 to 2007. Highly adaptable and living as long as 25 years, they feel perfectly at home in suburbia, cheerfully pooping in parks, beaches, lawns and swimming pools. In 2009, a French outdoor leisure center actually had to be closed down due to a superabundance of goose shit that turned it into a giant disease-ridden slip-n-slide.
If you're ever visiting Maine, you might want to consider a hat.
They've become so comfortable that many of them don't even bother to migrate, deciding to carpet bomb our minivans with excrement full time. That's pretty aggravating for humans, but Canada geese in the wild are downright hazardous to their fellow fowl. They're so territorial that they will actively prevent other species of birds from settling anywhere near their territories, thereby cramping those birds' reproduction chances.
Manitoba Dept. of Conservation
"You gonna have sex? We'll just sit over here and watch. You won't even notice us."
And they're not just assholes to other birds, either. Not particularly impressed with our attempted genocide, they have no fear of humans and will attack you, too, if they find you in their territory. And increasingly, "their territory" refers to "the North American continent."
"Quick! Shit in the wound!"
And you'd be foolish to believe that they won't just kill your ass. Bird strikes in the U.S. cause over $600 million in damage to both civilian and military aircraft per year, and have been directly responsible for the deaths of 219 people since 1988. And the Canada goose has most definitely distinguished itself as a major culprit -- there have been about 1,350 geese/aircraft collisions in the last 20 years. Friends, that's no accident.
"I could see it right before impact, and it was smiling. It was smiling."
For more animals designed to destroy us, check out 6 Animals That Just Don't Give A F#@k and 7 Animals That Are One Flaw Away From Taking Over the World.