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Who doesn’t enjoy hiking in the mountains? Some regions of the United States are ideal for hikers of all types. Some hikers prefer to stick to well established trails, while other, more gutsy hikers may insist upon reaching the summit of high altitude mountains. Of course, like many outdoor activities, hiking comes with risks, such as falling from cliffs, running out of food and water, getting lost and being attacked by dangerous animals. Hikers can prepare for such unfortunate occurrences by using maps, bringing plenty of food and water or by bringing pepper spray in case of wildlife encounters. However, there is very little a hiker can do in order to prevent attacks from the dreadful bugs that painfully eat away at people’s toes. These bugs are known as Abedus bugs, and while most hikers have probably never heard of them, they are becoming more and more common in the mountains of southern California. In fact, they are becoming so common that park rangers have taken to warning hikers about their presence in certain mountainous regions.

 

Abedus bugs are native to southern California where they are often spotted in streams around the Santa Monica Mountains. These bugs are also known as giant water bugs or toe-biters. As their name implies, these bugs can and will bite people’s toes. According to Park Ranger Ana Beatriz of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Abedus bugs can inflict very painful bites to people’s toes, but, luckily, they cannot kill people. These bugs can be found all over the world. In some regions, Abedus bugs can grow to four inches in length, and even the smaller ones are remorseless killing machines, as they often feast on fish, snakes and baby turtles. Many people are surprised to learn that this small insect can kill animals so much larger than itself, but considering the bugs toxic venom, hunting large animals is no problem for the Abedus bug. When these bugs locate their prey, they use their beaks in order to stab their victims. This beak injects venom, which paralyzes their victims. The venom also liquefies their victim’s insides so that the Abedus bug can suck out their entrails. Amazingly, size is not an issue when it comes to locating prey, as the Abedus bug can kill prey that is 50 times its own size.

 

Does learning about Abedus bugs make you afraid to go hiking?