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READY: Sleep tight and don’t let the humans bite

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Mary Ready

I like those top 10 lists that pop up in the media from time to time. You know — like Ten Happiest Countries (Denmark #1) and Ten Most Depressed Countries (Moldova #1). The world's fattest nation overall is Nauru, a South Pacific island where 71.1 percent of its 10,000 population is obese. (I would have guessed America held that position.)

But, I’d never thought about the top 10 most evil animals until Time magazine published its list.  

At number 10 is the Asian Carp, a nasty native of China, sometimes weighing as much as 100 pounds. When startled, they jump out of the water, attack fishermen and often cause the unfortunate angler broken bones and black eyes. That’s just plain mean. 

Next, the emerald ash borer, also of Chinese origin, likes to destroy trees by the tens of millions. Looking like a wingless beetle with a gargoyle’s face, it fears only wasps which enjoy munching on ash borer eggs. Unless the USDA intervenes, they have the potential to be a modern day plague like the Old Testament locusts in Egypt. 

Eighth place goes to pandas. Yes, pandas. That cute, cuddly bear beloved by small children. Again, from China, these deceptively sweet looking critters are lazy, mean-spirited, and prone to abusing their mates and offspring.

I totally agree with number seven. The tapeworm invades the liver and digestive systems of other animals, with a preference for humans who unknowingly eat raw or undercooked infected meat. They steal your food while living happily inside your body without your even knowing it until you get an unpleasant surprise in the bathroom.      

Few people had ever heard of number six until Meryl Streep’s 1988 movie A Cry in the Dark. Based on a true incident, it’s the story of an Australian mother falsely imprisoned for killing her baby. Later evidence showed a dingo had eaten her nine month old. Other reports of dingoes killing children followed. Beware of their cute, doggy faces.

Fifth place for sheer evil goes to locusts. Like number nine, the ash borer, they breed with wild abandon and turn to gang behavior. Aggressive swarms of locusts travel for hundreds of miles, devouring entire crops in their wake. Maybe you’ve read of their infamy in Exodus 10.

At number four is the Tsetse Fly. Fond of human blood, this African insect transmits the dreaded “sleeping sickness” to its victims. Untreated, the disease is often fatal.

The third most evil creature is the rat. It may be cousin (sort of) to Mickey Mouse, but as a fellow member of the rodentia order, Ricky Rat is that nasty, disgusting, disease-spreading relative that Minnie would never invite over to the nest for Thanksgiving. In the 14th century, rats were responsible for the Black Death that killed 100 million Europeans over a period of 200 years. I have a recurring nightmare of being stuck in a drainage pipe with big, toothy rats coming at me from all sides. Not sure how a psychiatrist would interpret that. 

Evil creature number two is the human being. Hmmm. I would have rated humans number one most depraved, twisted, and malevolent of all God’s creations. The Time magazine article published a gallery of the 50 most evil Americans. Charles Manson is #1, and Scott Peterson is #50.

 Daily the media informs us of more, more, more. The murderers, child molesters, rapists, war mongers, granny dumpers, haters, gossipers, con artists and the like. One who didn’t make Time’s list is the evil Fred Phelps, founding pastor of Westboro Baptist Church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals. Old Fred died this year at age 84, but his cruelty lives on through the followers he poisoned with his hatred.  

I agree with George Bernard Shaw who said, “Human beings are the only animals of which I am thoroughly and cravenly afraid.” 

Drum roll, please.  

The most evil beast in the animal kingdom animal is the bedbug. About the size of an apple seed, they can drink up to three times their body weight in human blood. They’ve become especially prolific over recent years with infestation reports coming in from all 50 states. New York City, also known for its legions of rats, had them in almost epidemic proportions last year. They won’t kill you, but when you wake up covered in pink, itchy blotches, you’ll probably wish you were dead.

So, what about roaches?  Or yellow flies. Or fire ants, killer bees, Florida mosquitoes, and piranhas. Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my.  

All these pale when it comes to the evil of some humans.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.