New Killer Insect Message: The Truth and The Lie

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water bug

Killer Insect Post

You may have once or twice gotten the message warning you never to kill a particular “killer insect” with your bare hands because if you do, you will be contaminated with a virus that will spread all over your body/hand within minutes. This message comes with accompanying disturbing images of human hands affected by this killer insect. However this warning, which has been circulated widely online, causing panic among susceptible social media users, is a hoax.

How is that so?

First, there is a trend with all hoaxes. Hoaxes don’t give specifics. They leave you to munch on the little message and feed you graphic to somewhat convince you.

If you are one of those who received the message and shared/re-broadcast, has it ever crossed your mind to ask yourself what the name of the insect is? What is the name of the disease/virus it causes? Does it leave any medical advice? None. Instead all you have is a warning, an accompanying image(s) and of course, the request to share and re-share.

The Truth about the Message

Is there really a truth to the message? Well, no. But since it is a false message intended to go viral, it was concocted from some actual truths or rather, facts.

Number one fact. The insect is real. It is a giant water bug, a creature that is found in North America, South Africa, and India and… wait for it… it is harmless to humans!

water bug
A male giant water bug, the ‘toe-biter’ Abedus indentatus, with female-laid eggs on its back [Image via noisecollusion/Wikimedia Commons]
Snopes, a website specializing in a fact-check of rumours and hoaxes, tweeted about this in January, clarifying the air about the supposedly killer insect. There is also a YouTube video that shows that the images accompanying the hoax was done by a make-up artist.

Like I always say, always do a fact check before rebroadcasting posts, especially ones that consistently requests that you share.

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