1. Stinging insects
The most consistent U.S. animal killers are also the smallest. According to the CDC, stings from bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants kill anywhere from 90 to 100 people each year due to an allergy-related condition called anaphylactic shock.
Right now you might be thinking, “No problem! I’ve been stung before, and I’m not allergic.” Guess again: It is possible to develop an allergy later in life.
To make things worse, some varieties of wasps and hornets live underground, and you might hike past their front door just as some of them are coming or going. Probably the worst way to get stung, though, is when you didn’t notice that a yellowjacket has crawled into your soft-drink can. Ouch.
It may not be possible to avoid stinging insects entirely, especially if you’re hiking in areas with lots of flowers (including clover). Avoid brightly colored or floral-printed clothing (they can attract bees), don’t wear loose clothing (ever had a bee fly up your pant leg or shirt sleeve?), and opt for shoes rather than sandals.
If bees or wasps fly near you, slowly move away. Don’t swat at or try to shoo the insects, as this can trigger them to sting. And if you are stung, move away as quickly as you can; that’s because when an insect stings, it releases a chemical that calls other insects to the area.