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Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Creepy Crawly Creatures - Which To Avoid, and Which Just Look Scary

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By Grace Chen

Many people have a natural fear of bugs. From arachnophobia to the general entomophobia, these creepy crawly creatures tap into some of our deepest fears. While there are some out there that can cause harm, most will not. When in doubt, leave them alone, and the majority of bugs will give you the same courtesy. But in the event that your paths cross, here is a look at some of the scary bugs and the ones to avoid.

Just Scary Looking

There are numerous bugs out there that are scary looking but will not cause any harm. If you are into bugs, consider getting a book on entomology to help you identify them. If you are not so fond of them, here are some of the common pests you may run across.

  • Cicadas - These large bugs are known for the loud noise they make, but do not feed as adults, causing no harm to humans.Golden Orb Spider - Scary, Not Deadly

  • Cockroaches - While these pests are hated and feared, they do not have any biting abilities. They can cause harm by spreading bacteria or causing allergies, but this is generally not a problem in clean areas.

  • Daddy-Long-Legs - These spider look-alikes are harmless. A relative of the spider, they are not a true spider, and do not have any venom.  They eat plants and decaying materials.

  • Dragonflies - These insects are some of the largest, and while scary-looking they do not attack people. They are actually a predator of smaller insects including mosquitoes and bugs that damage crops, making them beneficial. They may pinch you if you catch one, but they are not strong enough to break skin.

  • Millipedes - A relative of the more dangerous centipede, these can be distinguished by chewing mouthparts and two pairs of legs per segment. They eat plant matter. Many give up a foul smell that is not toxic to humans.

  • Praying Mantis - Like the dragonfly these bugs eat garden pests. They can even make good pets if you feed them soft insects and provide them with fresh water.

  • Scarab-like Beetles - May, June, and Japanese beetles are closely related to the scarab. While they may harm plants they will not harm humans, though they may pinch if you catch them.

  • Walking Sticks - This bug looks like a stick, which acts as camouflage. They eat plants and can make great pets.
  • Spiders - While all spiders are poisonous, most will not bite. Even then, most spiders don't have lethal venom. The Golden Orb Spider, most often found in Australia but also found in the U.S., won't cause much damage - unless you walk into its web, or find it eating a bird, in which case you might just have a heart attack!

Dangerous Bugs

There are some bugs that can be dangerous, whether from the disease they spread or the poison in their bite. Avoid them at all costs!

  • Centipedes - These have long flat bodies and at least 15 pairs of legs and have a painful bite. They have fangs and one pair of legs per segment, allowing you to identify them from harmless millipedes.Black Widow Spider - Poisonous

  • Ticks - These tiny bugs are found in wooded areas and tall grass and do bite humans. They can carry serious diseases and need to be carefully removed if you find them.

  • Scorpions - These bugs have a stinger and large pinchers and have a painful sting.

  • Fleas - These tiny bugs are often found on pets. They can jump long distances and feed on blood. They can spread disease and parasites, and while they will not generally live on humans they will feed on them.

  • Bees - Most bees will not attack people, but they will sting in defense. The reaction to bee stings can be anything from pain to a deadly allergic reaction that causes difficulty breathing.

  • Mosquitoes - These well-known pests are annoying and cause itchy bites. They can also spread diseases like West Nile Virus. They can be prevented with mosquito traps and preventing stagnant water by adding fountains to ponds.

  • Spiders – There are two main dangerous spiders to watch out for. The black widow has a red hourglass on the abdomen and has a dangerous bite. The brown recluse has a dark brown fiddle shape on its back and also has a severe bite. Immediate treatment is recommended for both.

For more information (and even more bugs), search the Insectclopedia.





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