12 Animals Most Likely To Kill You When You Visit The Sunshine State

Yellow Jacket
Yellow Jacket Bees, wasps, and hornets were responsible for the most deaths in Florida in the CDC’s database, with 47 reported deaths from 1999 to 2017. Narrowing down specifically which species is responsible isn’t easy; there are 65 known species of these insects in Florida. The state’s warm, humid environment makes it an easy home for insects that hop over on boats and planes from tropical environments. The yellow jacket, a type of wasp, is generally considered a beneficial insect, as it eats other nastier insects, but it’s also been linked to several deaths, including this one in Sarasota. Shutterstock
American Alligator
American Alligator One of only two alligator species in the world, the American alligator is an iconic member of the swampy gulf states, especially Florida. Alligators are not necessarily aggressive, but are not particular about what they eat, and can be enormous and incredibly powerful. Deaths do occur; there have been five since 2015 in Florida alone, and though only about one happens per year, most of those are in Florida. Shutterstock
Black Widow Spider
Black Widow Spider The black widow—specifically, the southern black widow—thrives in Florida. A spectacularly venomous spider, the black widow is widespread throughout the state. But its reputation is slightly overblown: though it is common and venomous, actual deaths from black widow bites are rare. For one thing, the males can’t inject humans at all. For another, there’s been an antivenom for nearly a century. That said, over 2,000 people per year in the US are bitten by a black spider, and though no deaths have been reported since 1983, they are ridiculously painful and often require hospitalization. The University of Florida notes that the black widow is one of the only potentially fatal spiders in Florida, and the CDC says that 13 deaths were caused by venomous spiders between 1999 and 2017. Shutterstock
Feral Dog
Feral Dog Feral dogs are a much larger danger than most people think; they kill more cattle than wolves, bears, and mountain lions. And there are tons of them in Florida, thanks to a large population of humans and destructive hurricanes that leave dogs homeless. Feral dogs have been responsible for several deaths, including one earlier this year. They are one of the deadliest species of animal in Florida, according to the CDC, which attributes 43 deaths between 1999 and 2017 to dogs. Shutterstock
White-Tailed Deer
White-Tailed Deer Here’s the crazy thing: deer, though they aren’t really aggressive, are responsible for so many deaths that they make this list, despite Florida actually being one of the least deer-accident-prone states in the country. Roughly 200 deaths per year are caused by deer/vehicle accidents in the US, and the risk of colliding with a deer in Florida is one in 831. Compare that with the risk of a shark attack in the US: about one in four million. Of course, that number goes up significantly in Florida, which brings us to our next entry. Shutterstock
Great White Shark
Great White Shark Florida is hit by more shark attacks—though “attack” is kind of a misnomer, as sharks aren’t really aggressive—than any other state. Of the several shark species that live near the Floridian coast, the Florida Museum lists the famous great white as responsible for more unprovoked injuries and deaths than any other species. Several bites were recorded in Florida this summer, though shark experts note that there are some common-sense precautions to take (don’t go in the water while bleeding) and that shark attacks are still quite rare. Shutterstock
Fire Ant
Fire Ant Native to tropical South and Central America, red fire ants are now extremely widespread throughout Florida. Possessing a painful venom, they bite millions of people each year, especially thriving in golf courses, parks, and yards. A few people have died over the years, but more commonly, fire ant bites are extremely painful, causing pustules that can leave permanent scars. For those with allergies to the venom, anaphylactic shock can occur. It’s hard to tell exactly where the fire ant falls in the CDC lists, but they attribute 16 deaths to venomous arthropods, which likely includes the red fire ant. Shutterstock
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake There are several species of venomous snake in Florida, but it’s the eastern diamondback that has the most deaths attributed to it: at least three in the past 20 years, most recently in 2005. It’s one of the largest and heaviest venomous snakes in the world, and its venom is especially potent, but deaths are comparatively rare because it is a shy and non-aggressive animal. Bites tend to occur when the snake is agitated in some way. Shutterstock
Box Jellyfish
Box Jellyfish There are many species of box jellyfish, so named for their odd cube-like shape, including the Australian box jellyfish, considered the most venomous creature in the sea. That one has never been found wild in Florida, but a few others have. Take the four-handed box jellyfish, found in both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. It isn’t even considered the most venomous of its relatives, but the venom is still plenty strong enough to kill, as happened in 1991. The CDC says 10 deaths attributed to marine animals have occurred since 1999; jellyfish have been a particular problem in Florida lately, with a truly insane 800 people stung over the course of three days last year. Wikimedia
Bull Shark
Bull Shark Though the Florida Museum says the great white is responsible for more unprovoked attacks in Floridian waters, the bull shark is often considered the most aggressive of all sharks. It’s highly territorial and prefers shallow, murky water, of which Florida has a lot. A kiteboard surfer was killed due to blood loss from bull shark bites in Florida in 2010. Shutterstock
Mosquito
Mosquito Being a humid, tropical or sub-tropical environment with one of the biggest tropical ports in the world in Miami, the mosquito problem in Florida is severe. Mosquito-carried diseases enter Florida through its ports, so people bit by a mosquito in Florida can contract such far-flung diseases as dengue fever, West Nile virus, malaria, and yellow fever. Malaria occurs in Florida at a much higher rate than most of the country; there were 65 reported cases in 2012. Shutterstock
Bizarre Exotics
Bizarre Exotics There’s a thriving exotic pet and amateur zoo industry in Florida, and on a fairly regular basis, one of these wild animals kills a human—usually a human who was keeping said animal as a pet, which they, you know, shouldn’t do. None of these individual species are common enough in Florida to make the CDC’s list, but if you combine them, they likely would. Some highlights: earlier this year, a Florida man was killed by a cassowary, a giant flightless bird with razor-sharp talons native to Australia and nearby islands. Monkeys, several of which have created semi-stable breeding populations in Florida suburbs, sometimes attack people, and have recently been discovered to carry a frequently deadly form of herpes. Shutterstock