Filed Under (General) by Rob on 14-10-2009

(NB post updated on 15th October)

If you see a creature like this one, beware and do NOT squash it, or even brush it off with your hand…


Rather, blow it off if you can, or get a friend to help! This very morning, Lois arrived at school to find no fewer than SIX of these paederus littoralis in her classroom and had to evacuate the room immediately. That’s because they can cause serious injury to human skin. They are common in much of W Africa around this time of the year. In fact, a friend at another school in Bamako had them in her classroom too, and 3 pupils got burns on their hands as a result!

I mentioned these wee beasties in this post, back in November ’06, when I gave the following warning:

“If this small, red and black insect lands on you, do NOT squash them or brush them off, as this could cause nasty burning. Blowing them off is usually safe […] a colleague of ours in Cotonou got some unpleasant burns on her arm last year from one of these wee beasties.”

In fact, the colleague concerned posted an interesting article on Facebook yesterday. Here it is:

Harmful Beetle
(click to enlarge)

It’s still hard to read the text even when enlarged, but one mildly distressing phrase reads “intraveneous injection causes death at levels which suggest that it is more potent than cobra venom.” Hmmm. Mind you, before you panic too much, I don’t think any of us are planning on injecting them into our bloodstreams. Also, quantities of the venom per insect would be significantly less, I should think.

I’ve also been told that the correct name for this insect is the rove beetle. Also, see a doctor’s take on these nasty bugs here (which is where the opening picture came from). Beware! There are images to be seen of rove beetle burns on humans!

Thank you for reading – mind how you go now!

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