Top Ten Most Shocking Insect Infestations

We’re always telling you that not treating an infestation as soon as you suspect one is bad news. As Vancouver Washington’s professional pest control go-to team we’ve seen the damage caused by ants, cockroaches, rats and termites at first hand…and it’s not pretty.

Here is our line-up of ten famous cases from around the world of infestations that were left just a little too long.

1 Yellowjacket nests (2006)


Back in 2006 reports came in of giant wasp nests engulfing cars, derelict houses and barns. Normally no bigger than a basketball the wasp’s nests became massive. To make matters worse these wasps bear a grudge and will chase anything they perceive as a threat, including us!


2 Snakes in the water (2009)

[credit: NY Daily News]

When Ben Session moved his family into a new home in Rexburg, ID he had no idea what horrors lay in wait. The family, whose story was also taken up by CBS, were quoted as saying they would, “Lie awake in bed, listening to the snakes slithering in the walls”.


3 Gigantic cricket swarm (2013)


Crickets will eat just about anything. When drought hit Oklahoma in 2003 and was followed by larger than normal rains a few months later, the city was engulfed by billions of crickets. When the crickets died the streets were lined with their rotting corpses.


4 5,000 Brown Recluse spiders (2007)

[credit: TheBlaze]

It’s not often that a spider infestation becomes so bad that critters are seen, “Bleeding out of the walls”. But after Brian and Susan Trost moved in to their new home in Weldon Spring, Mo. they were at the mercy of upwards of 5,000 Brown Recluse spiders that were in, “Blinds, ceilings, fireplaces, lights [and] dropped from the ceiling”.


5 Texas mosquito swarm (1980)

[credit: National Geographic]

Plagues of mosquitos are usually a biblical concern but in the fall of 1980, a Texan farmer watched billions of the blood-sucking insects kill his livestock. The infestation lasted for weeks and came at a terrible cost.


6 NYC’s bedbug takeover (2010)


The famous bed-bug infestation of NYC was a phenomenon that hit its peak in 2010. Reports were of people being devoured at cinemas, the Wall Street Journal and Google’s New York HQ. One of the causes of the epidemic was down to “human ignorance”, according to prevention company, BedBug Central.


7 Madagascan locusts (2013)

[credit: Huffington Post]

At 15km long this locust swarm is one of the biggest recorded. With a notorious appetite for stripping fields of their crops the swarm devastated half the island’s arable land including rice and corn which was about to be harvested. It eventually died out but left the country with serious food shortages.


8 Memphis cobwebs (2015)

[credit: Metabunk]

Residents of Memphis, TN, were less than happy with the sight of nearly a half mile of spider webs engulfing their neighbourhood. Harmless sheet web spiders had laced everything with fine web in readiness for the dispersal of their young; pretty soon doors, windows and sidewalks were covered with small eight-legged freaks.


9 Albuquerque swarm (2014)


While the human population of New Mexico’s largest city enjoyed unseasonably hot winters, trouble was brewing just beneath the surface of the surrounding desert. Usually cold and wet, the winters would normally kill many grasshopper eggs. But it wasn’t to be, and the resulting swarms were so big they were picked up on radar.


10 China’s hornet deaths (2013)


The world’s largest hornet is native to Asia but it’s making its way across Europe according to experts. Its stinger is about 6mm long and has been known to kill people, even those not normally allergic to stings. An outbreak in China killed 42 people.

A Brief History of Ants

Even though Antworks Pest Control prides itself on the removal and control of all sorts of pests, we started off specializing in some serious home defense against ants. Ants are fascinating creatures that have diverged into the 12,000 known species of resilient, hard-working bosses of the bug world. But as we know too well they are also extremely pernicious mainly down to the fact they have evolved constantly over the course of 150M years to meet environmental change. Let’s face it, you don’t get anywhere in this world if you’re not willing to ride the times!

These days, ants can be found on just about every landmass on Earth barring Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Their success can be put down to their social organisation, ability to change their living arrangements quickly, seek resources, and – with some – defend themselves. All of this means that ants create one massive home defense and extermination issue worldwide; that goes for us here in Vancouver, WA too.

Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the Jurassic period and hit the big time after the rise of flowering plants and fruits in the spring of 100M years ago. While wasps went on to use their rear ends to deliver venom the ants used their’s to deliver new life. There are an estimated 22,000 species in the world with only half having been identified.

Over time, different ant species chose different ways of life; some burrowed, some lived on dead vegetation, and some lived in trees. Despite all sorts of climate change (including whatever killed off the dinosaurs) ants thrived. A 49.5M year-old fossil of a winged queen ant is testimony to their evolutionary success; discovered in Wyoming in 2011, Titanomyrma is a prehistoric giant ant about the size of today’s hummingbirds (3-5 inches long).

During the Cretaceous period ants were scarce in comparison to the populations of other insects making up only about 1% of the world’s bug population, but by the Oligocene and Miocene (100M years later), ants made up 20–40% of all insects found in major fossil deposits.

One of the biggest reasons ants can be so hard to control as a pest is their love of living together in colonies which can range in size from a handful of individuals to millions. This way of living is called Eusociality and is in fact the best type of social organisation that some believed was akin even to our own way of life. It’s thought that ants became grouped as eusocial insects through an evolutionary phenomenon which allowed them to work collectively to benefit the gene pool rather than themselves as individuals.

Colonies are exceptionally well-run affairs with castes (groups) all specialized in one particular area of nest maintenance including reproduction. Similarly to ants, termite colonies are eusocial but the two are not related except through a primitive biological line. Termites are thought to have existed 251M years ago, more than 100M years before ants; when ants were getting stuck into the new fruit craze, termites were already working on their caste system. Their colony habits are similar but only by coincidence; termites are actually more closely related to cockroaches and mantids.