15 Dangerous Bugs in Alaska (Wild Insects 2023)

Alaska, one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world, attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists all around the year who come to this majestic place to be one with its flora and fauna. However, they need to be careful of certain 6-legged natives that may inflict quite a harm. In today’s article, we bring to you 15 Dangerous Bugs in Alaska that may have a painful bite, a sting, or may be vectors of several deadly diseases. So without much ado, come and join me for an entomology tour of Alaska.

15 Dangerous Bugs in Alaska

1. Assassin’s Bug

Assassin's Bug

Common Name Masked Hunter
Scientific Name Reduvius personatus
Size 0.75 inches
Habitat Urban areas around buildings
Danger Level High
Reason Highly painful bites

The Masked Hunter is a species of Assasin’s Bug that prefers dry places and therefore make its way indoors in search of warm, dry spots. These bugs are a nuisance, as their manhandling can lead to severely painful bites.

Handling them carelessly, especially by people who aren’t native to the place, especially tourists, are exposed to greater risks. Their bites may sometimes lead to anaphylactic reactions.


2. Eastern Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

Common Name Cow Killer
Scientific Name Dasymutilla occidentalis
Size 2 centimeters
Habitat Lawns, pastures, forests, gardens
Danger Level High
Reason Extremely Painful Sting

Despite having the name Eastern Velvet Ants, these notorious creatures are wasps with a dense hairy covering on their bodies that gives them their characteristic velvet-like appearance.

Body colorations consist of a blasé black color with orange-red patterns. The red coloration serves as a warning sign that these insects can deliver such a painful bite, which rumors state can easily kill an adult cow.


3. Common Paper Wasp

Common Paper Wasp

Common Name Common Paper Wasp, Guinea Wasp
Scientific Name Polistes exclamans
Size 2-4 centimeters
Habitat In any place protected from rain
Danger Level High
Reason Sting causing excruciating pain (Schmidt Pain Level: 3)

A notable species of Paper Wasps, the Guinea Paper Wasp is the 3rd member of this list covering dangerous bugs in Alaska. One can easily identify this species by its red color back and abdomen consisting of black, red, and yellow colored alternating bands.

Their sting can cause immense pain, coupled with redness and swelling, and can even be lethal to allergic and sensitive persons.


4. Yellow Jackets

Common Yellowjacket

Common Name Common Yellowjacket
Scientific Name Vespula alascensis
 Size 0.5 inches
Habitat Forests, urban areas
Danger Level Painful Sting
Reason Pain, redness, itching, swelling

The common yellow jackets are widespread throughout Alaska, and people prefer to maintain their distance due to their aggressiveness and potent sting.

Common Yellow jackets can easily be recognized by coloration, which consists of black and yellow colors. These wasps will inhabit any areas that have food in ample quantities, especially sugary foods.

Vegetation destruction and building towns haphazardly have led to a steep decline in their population.


5. Carpenter Ant

Carpenter Ants

Common Name Carpenter Ants
Scientific Name Camponotus spp.
Size 0.3-1 inch
Habitat Moist, woody forest environments
Danger Level Moderately high
Reason Large, and strong mandibles to deliver a nasty bite

The next insects that can be counted among the dangerous bugs in Alaska are the carpenter ants. These large ant species get their name from their habit of excavating wood which in turn helps in the decomposition process of the forests.

Carpenter ants are both hunters as well as scavengers. Their diet comprises honeydew, nectar, other insects, or any dead matter.


6. Bald Faced Hornet

Bald Faced Hornet

Common Name white-faced hornet, blackjacket, white-tailed hornet
Scientific Name Dolichovespula maculata
Size 0.75 inches
Habitat Forests, meadows, urban areas where vegetation is available
Danger Level High
Reason Stings repeatedly, Schmidt’s Pain Index of 2

Despite not being “true hornets,” Bald-Faced Hornets are a close relative to yellow jackets. This species has a thick body, with a greater proportion of white on their bodies than black.

Bald-faced hornets primarily prey on insects and other yellow jackets; hordes of them are regarded as beneficial species, as they keep their population in check.

If they perceive a threat, Bald-faced hornets become very aggressive and tend to sting multiple times.


7. Western Bumblebee

Western Bumblebee

Common Name Alaskan bumblebee
Scientific Name Bombus occidentalis
Size 1 inch
Habitat Near flower beds, gardens, forests
Danger Level Moderate
Reason Painful sting, causing redness, swelling

Despite being spread over three color morphs, the Western Bumblebee in Alaska is distinguishable by the yellow hairs behind its wings.

They are important pollinators and play a crucial role in maintaining the health of many ecosystems. Bumblebees are important pollinators and play a crucial role in maintaining the health of an ecosystem.


8. Four Spotted Velvet Ants

Common Name Velvet Ants
Scientific Name Dasymutilla quadriguttata
Size 2 centimeters
Habitat Lawns, pastures, forests, gardens
Danger Level High
Reason Painful swelling

The next insect on this list of bugs in Alaska is the Four Spotted Velvet Ant, a close relative of the Cow Killers. Though having the name Ants, these insects are wasps.

Distinguishing features of the Four Spotted Velvet Ants include a reddish head and an abdomen that displays four spots: 2 large and two small near the waist.

Harmless at first, Four Spotted Velvet ants, especially the females, become particularly aggressive and deliver extremely painful stings.


9. Allegheny Mound Ants

Allegheny Mound Ants
Allegheny Mound Ants | Credit: peterwchen (inaturalist) CC BY 4.0
Common Name Mound ants, Formica ants
Scientific Name Formica exsectoides
Size 3.2-6.3 millimeters
Habitat Fields, areas of open vegetation, meadows
Danger Level Moderate
Reason Bite, sprays formic acid

Allegheny Mound Ants is a species of field ant that is quite distinguishable from its other relatives. A reddish-orange head and thorax and black to dark brown abdomen serve as their characteristic identifying features.

Mound ants are a nuisance as they strip the area around their mound of its vegetation by spraying formic acid. If threatened, they may cause a painful bite in addition to formic acid spray that causes itching and irritation.


10. Aedes Mosquito

Aedes Mosquito

Common Name Tomguito, Aedes mosquito
Scientific Name Aedes vexans
Size 1.8-3.2 millimeters
Habitat everywhere
Danger Level Moderate
Reason Causes diseases like encephalitis, myxomatosis, meningitis

Aedes Mosquito is a mosquito species with a cosmopolitan distribution. Though its bite may not be as potent as the other members of this list, the number of diseases it brings to the table makes it quite dangerous.

Many environmentalists state that the cold climate of Alaska and other geographical factors gives no chance to these mosquito-related diseases.

It is true to lot extent that diseases like dog heartworm, myxomatosis, and encephalitis are more tropical, yet we must not forget the changing climate of the world and the high evolution rate of insects and also the viruses they carry.


11. Red Pavement Ants

Red Pavement Ants

Common Name Pavement Ants
Scientific Name Tetramorium caespitum
Size 3-7 millimeters
Habitat Along the sides of concrete pavements, walls, concrete slabs
Danger Level Moderate
Reason Bites causing painful, itchy swelling

Remember the time when tiny red ants found up inside your shoe from the driveway or footpath and gave a nasty bite? It was painful, right?

This is exactly why we have Red Pavement Ants on this list of dangerous bugs in Alaska. Pavement ants are red or reddish brown in coloration and feed on almost anything which they find while foraging.

Though they do great work in keeping the surroundings clean, their huge numbers sometimes can cause severe infestations.


12. Formica Ants

Formica Ants

Common Name Red Ants
Scientific Name Formica sp.
Size Variable; dependent on the species
Habitat Almost everywhere
Danger Level Moderate
Reason Bites, formic acid sprays

 Formica ants bring underneath them a wide spectrum of ant species that we commonly encounter in our daily lives. These ants generally occur in red to reddish-brown coloration and are known for their painful bites.

Another characteristic of formica ants is that they have a high formic acid content in their bodies, which makes them highly acidic and unpalatable. Formica ants also use formic acid as a spray to deter foreign organisms.


13. Western Harvester Ants

Western Harvester Ants

Common Name Auburn Harvester Ants
Scientific Name Pogonomyrmex occidentalis
Size 0.8 inches
Habitat Open grounds in bare patches
Danger Level High; Schmidt’s Pain Index of 3
Reason Painful sores; allergies in sensitive people

The Western Harvester Ants are a large species of ants that can be easily distinguished from their other counterparts due to their size.

They have quite strong mandibles which they use to deliver highly painful bites and to clear the area around their nest of vegetation. Doing this, not only removes the habitat for other insects but also allows the direct entry of sun rays.


14. Spider Wasp

Spider Wasp

Common Name Spider Wasp
Scientific Name Enytpus unifasciatus
Size 0.6-1.3 inches
Habitat Forests, gardens
Danger Level Moderately high
Reason Venomous stings

Spider Wasps derive their name from their diet, which includes mainly arachnids and nectar. They use venom to paralyze their prey and then drag it to its den, which their larva later uses to feed on.

Spider wasps do not hurt humans in general but may not step back if felt threatened.


15. Black Blister Beetle

Black Blister Beetles

Common Name Blister Beetles
Scientific Name Epicauta pennsylvanica
Size 0.3-0.7 inches
Habitat Around flowering plants
Danger Level High
Reason Release chemicals that cause redness, blisters

Black Blister Beetles are black-colored insects, which have a shiny sheen on its head, and the ad is also on their wings. Though it’s the last member of this list of Bugs in Alaska, its potency should not be underestimated.

As a defense mechanism, black blister beetles release a chemical substance, which on contact with the skin, causes severe irritation, coupled with redness, and later turns into painful blisters.

Now it’s time to conclude this article on 15 dangerous bugs in Alaska. Please do check out our other articles on this website, covering mammals, reptiles, birds, fishes, etc. We will be back soon with more such interesting write-ups, so stay tuned until then.

References:

Insectidentification.org- Western Bumblebee

Insectidentification.org- Paper Wasp

Orkin- Allegheny Mound Ant


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