10 Dangerous Summer Bugs

It’s important to be able to recognize dangerous insects during your outdoor summer excursions. Here are some of the most dangerous insects in North America and how to spot them.

By Reader's Digest Editors
Black Widow Spider© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

It’s important to be able to recognize dangerous insects to protect yourself and your family during your outdoor summer excursions. Although most bugs that you encounter will be harmless, deadly insects and other creepy crawlies are a very real threat. Here are some of the most dangerous spiders and insects in North America and how to spot them.

Plus: The Best Advice for Preventing and Destroying Bed Bugs

1. Black Widow Spider
Roughly the size of a paper clip and with venom 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s, this hourglass-shaped black spider can be spotted by the red markings on its back. Black Widow spiders can live for 1-3 years in the wild and are often found alone.

2. Tarantula Spider
With a lifespan of nearly 30 years Tarantula spiders can grow to nearly the size of a personal pizza. Most Tarantulas are afraid of large predators (like humans) but if provoked – watch out! Though their venom isn’t deadly, it’s not pleasant and can cause rashes and pain at the biting point.

3. Africanized Bee
Mostly found in the Southern and Southwestern portions of the United States, Africanized Honeybees often travel in swarms to find a new hive. Most do not randomly attacked people or animals unless they feel that their new hive is in danger. If you see a swarm of bees or are near a hive, it’s important to move away from the area quickly.

4. Mosquitoes
Throughout the world, more people are killed by mosquito-borne illness than any other factor. In the United States, mosquitoes can spread different types of encephalitis and can transmit heartworms to domestic animals like dogs and cats.

5. Red Fire Ants
About ½ inch long and brought accidently by ship from South America, the Red Fire Ant is a robust type of ant that can sting. Found on golf courses, at picnic grounds, and at playgrounds, Red Fire Ants are very common.

6. Wasps
Wasps usually have a slender, shiny body but they can often look like Honeybees. Unlike Honeybees, when wasps sting their victim they do not lose their stinger, allowing them to sting their victim repeatedly.

7. Brown Recluse Spider
Native to the Midwestern and Southern United States, Brown Recluse Spiders can be deadly to children under the age of 7. Displaying a violin-like shape on their back, these spiders can range in color from brownish-tan to yellow-tan. Most Brown Recluse Spiders only bite when provoked.

8. Scorpions
With a crab-like appearance, scorpions are predatory and often come out at night. Scorpions like warm, dry climates and are often found in deserts. Take precautions when hiking and camping by keeping shoes, blankets, and towels secured indoors. Stings can feel much like a Honeybee sting with mild swelling or a rash, or may be more serious.

9. Ticks
Ticks can be very tiny and some can also carry Lyme disease. Prevalent throughout North America, ticks can attach themselves to exposed skin after time spent outdoors. It’s important to do a full body check for ticks and to remove any ticks immediately. If bitten by a Lyme disease-carrying Deer Tick, removal of the tick within 36 hours can reduce the risk of disease.

10. Centipedes and Millipedes
Though not poisonous, Millipedes carry venom that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Centipedes also carry venom that is not deadly but can be toxic to people who are allergic to other types of insect venoms. Both centipedes and millipedes are worm-like creatures.

Plus: 8 Home Remedies for Summer’s Problems

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