Healthcare/Biosafety

Disinformation that Killer Insect is planned to be introduced against Marmorated Stink Bug

2 February, 2018

An article posted by the online portal bulvar.ge on the social network Facebook under the headline "The insect to combat with the marmorated stink bug is extremely harmful for human life" appears not to lose actuality and has more than 3,000 shares. It states that the Ministry of Agriculture, in order to increase the effectiveness of the fight against the brown marmorated stink bug blight, may import the world's most dangerous poisonous aphid called killer insect, originally endemic to India and the US, the bite of which causes the appearance of multiple round shaped irritations on the skin.

This information spread on Facebook is fraudulent. The Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia does not intend to introduce any kind of insect in order to boost the efficiency in the fight against the marmorated stink bug. The killer insect mentioned in the article does not exist in nature, and the video used in the material by Bulvar.ge, which seems to show people infected by the killer insect is fabricated. This video displays effects obtained with the use of specialised make-up.

FACT # 1: Scientific Research Center of the Ministry of Agriculture does not intend to introduce a biological enemy to combat against the marmorated stink bug

The Myth Detector contacted the Ministry of Agriculture to verify the veracity of the information. According to Zurab Khidasheli, the representative of the Scientific Research Center of the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture, information about the introduction of killer insect to resist the stink bug pest is absurd and has no connection with reality whatsoever. Besides, the introduction of a biological enemy to fight against the marmorated stink bug without preliminary investigation and study, is not planned.

Fact # 2: The killer insect does not exist. The photo and video present "Giant Water Bug", which is harmless for humans

The American fact-checking portal Snopes.com reported that a new killer insect, which infects the human skin just by touching it, was first published on social media in January 2016. Photos of the bug itself and an infected human hand accompanied the disinformation about the “killer insect” allegedly after touching it. In reality, the insect is a giant water bug, a creature that is found in North America, South Africa, and India and is harmless to humans.

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 Fact #3: The video depicting a human hand contaminated after touching the killer insect is fabricated

The photos shown in the  video accompanying Bulvar.ge's material, displaying a hand infected by the touch of "killer insect", is in fact a obtained by specialized make-up. YouTube users are doing this make-up in order to "irritate trypophobes".

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Photos from the video accompanying Bulvar.ge’s material. Photos from videos uploaded on Youtube

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Fact # 4: "Trypophobia" is not a disease caused by any insect

The bulvar.ge piece states that the insect causes trypophobia, which begins by the appearance of round shapes on the body. In reality, the term trypophobia is derived from the Greek word "tripo", meaning a hole and is used to describe irrational fears concerning numerous grouped small sized holes. Trypophobia is not recognized by the medical community as a phobia and cannot be found in any dictionary or manual.