LAHORE: The pitter-patter of monsoon rains leaves in its trail intense humidity and gnawing heat. As most people rush indoors to flee the rain and sticky weather, subterranean critters crawl out of their flooded homes into the open. Unprovoked, most of these creatures are harmless, however, unwanted interaction with humans can have fatal results. More than 427 cases of snakebite were reported by the Punjab Information Technology Board from various districts of the province this year. Nine people died in Faisalabad last month alone.

The sharp rise in injuries and attacks from venomous insects and reptiles each year corresponds directly with monsoon deluges which flood their habitat, Dr Muhammad Sami Mubarik, a zoology teacher at the Government College University, explains.

People most at risk are those involved in farming occupations that rely on seasonal rain (for example, farmers working on paddy fields), he says. “They are exposed to subterranean creatures, especially to snakes.”Some of the venomous species tend to be particularly aggressive this time of the year as their eggs hatch a month or two before monsoon season, Mubarik says.