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Potentially Dangerous Arachnids and Insects

Introduction

Note: This article deals only with the poisonous and venomous arthropods, not the ones that spread disease.
The purpose of this article is to assist you in determining whether the “bug” or spider you have found is potentially dangerous.

This article covers all of the potentially “dangerous” arachnids (spiders and their kin) and insects found in the United States.

Many people think that “bugs” are out to get them, which is completely untrue. Almost all “bugs” are harmless and are actually beneficial and only a few species are potentially harmful.
One thing to remember about “bugs” is you don’t bother them and they won’t bother you; however, if you need to remove an unwanted insect or spider, place a clear cup over it and slowly slide an index card underneath the cup.
Do not try to pick up the insect or spider, rather learn and observe without touching.
All of the arachnids and insects listed here are normally docile and are not aggressive. However, if you try to pick it up, or otherwise disturb it, some of the arachnids and insects will feel threatened and will defend themselves. Some of these defense mechanisms can be painful, or even harmful.

How to use
For a larger picture, click on the thumbnail. For more pictures, click on the More Pictures links. For more information about a particular topic, click on the underlined links listed in the reference section below each topic. Also please check the Guide Page links, as they will have more information about the range, habitat, and typical size of the specific arachnid /insect.
If you do not find your specimen listed here, then it is probably not dangerous.
If you are still unsure and would like confirmation, please submit your images
to the ID Request page.
If your specimen is listed below, and you have additional questions, check the General Discussion forum and post your question there.

All of the arachnids and insects shown here bite and sting only in defense, they will not bite/sting unless provoked.

Table of Contents:
Arthropods
- Centipedes
- Millipedes
Arachnids
- Scorpions
- Spiders
Insects
- Ants, Bees, & Wasps
- Beetles
- Flies
- Moths & Butterflies

Arthropods

Millipedes

More Pictures Guide Page
Many millipedes with bright color patterns secrete a compound containing cyanide. Wash your hands after handling them and do not allow children to pick them up.
A fact sheet on millipedes
A fact sheet on centipedes and millipedes

Centipedes - Larger species can inflict a painful bite on humans, but only if handled.

More Pictures Guide Page
Compare to this image of a millipede
Centipedes only have one pair of legs per segment and have large antennae compared to millipedes, which have many legs per segment and very small antennae.
A fact sheet on centipedes
Another fact sheet on centipedes
A fact sheet on centipedes and millipedes

Arachnids

Spiders
Spiders are important controllers of pests and only a very small number of species can or will bite humans even if provoked.
You have a better chance of dying from a bee sting than from a spider bite.
The only spiders in this article that are truly “dangerous” are the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. Other than those, the bite of most spiders are comparable to a bee sting.
If you are ever bitten by any spider, capture it for identification as it can be important in determining the course of treatment.

Orb Weavers - Very common – Extremely important controllers of pests - The chances of getting bitten by any species of orb weaver are slim to none

More Pictures Guide Page
Most orb weavers can or will not bite humans. The few species that will bite will only do so if squeezed or otherwise provoked. Typical reactions include localized pain with slight redness, which quickly subsides.

Wolf spidersVery important controllers of pests - The chances of getting bitten by any species of wolf spider are slim to none – Wolf spiders will only bite if provoked

More Pictures Guide Page
The venom of wolf spiders is not very harmful to humans.
Wolf spiders will bite only if handled or if trapped next to the skin. Typical reactions include initial pain and redness subsiding with time.
References
“Commonly Encountered Pennsylvania Spiders” Covers several spiders found throughout the U.S.

Jumping SpidersVery important controllers of pests - The chances of getting bitten by any species of jumping spider are slim to none – Jumping spiders will only bite if provoked

More Pictures Guide Page
Most jumping spiders can or will not bite humans. However, several species in the genus Phidippus are capable of biting. The bite results in localized swelling and redness.
References
“Commonly Encountered Pennsylvania Spiders” Covers several spiders found throughout the U.S.

Sac spiders - Chiracanthium inclusum - Chiracanthium mildei - Trachelas tranquillus
Several species of sac spiders are suspected of being responsible for most indoor spider bites to humans. Like most spiders, sac spiders typically do not bite unless they are trapped against the skin or provoked. Sac spiders are nocturnal, therefore bites are most likely to occur at night.

Chiracanthium inclusum - Chiracanthium mildei

Chiracanthium mildei
More Pictures Guide Page

Chiracanthium inclusum is native to much of the United States, except for the northernmost states.
C. mildei is an introduced species from Europe. As of 1978, it was found throughout much of the Northeast; however, it is likely that it has greatly increased its range since then.
The bite of a yellow sac spider usually results in instant, intense, stinging pain, similar to the sting of a bee or wasp; localized redness; and a burning sensation lasting for up to an hour, with rash and blistering occurring during the next 1-10 hours. There is slight swelling at the site of the bite for a day or two. Sometimes an ulcerated lesion develops at the site of the bite. This ulceration normally heals itself within several weeks.

Trachelas tranquillus

Trachelas sp.

Trachelas tranquillus
More Pictures Guide Page

This spider ranges from New England south to Georgia and Alabama and west to Kansas and Minnesota.
There are records of severe secondary infection associated with the bite, which may result from the spider's propensity for feeding on dead arthropods. Typically, the bite results in redness and some swelling, similar to a bee or wasp sting.

References
Information on sac spiders
Information about the yellow sac spiders
“Commonly Encountered Pennsylvania Spiders” Covers several spiders found throughout the U.S.
More information on yellow sac spiders

TarantulasWill not bite unless provoked – Their venom is no worse than most bee stings; however, some tarantulas can release a cloud of hairs that irritate the mucous membranes of mammals

More Pictures Guide Page
Tarantulas are huge spiders, with a distinctive, menacing appearance, which has given them an undeservedly sinister reputation.
A fact sheet on tarantulas

Black Widow – The bite of the adult female can be fatal - Will not bite unless provoked

Female - Bottom view

Female - Side view

Female (on the left) and male (on the right) - Top view
More Pictures Guide Page

Black widows are nocturnal. During the day the female will hide in a secluded corner of her web. At night she will hang upside-down in the web which is built close to the ground.
The male black widow is not dangerous. The adult female black widow has a red hourglass (or part of) on the underside of the abdomen. The female black widow may also have red or white marking on the top of the abdomen.
The shape of the female black widow is distinctive and the spider has a smooth, hairless appearance.
Female black widows are only aggressive when they are protecting an egg sac, otherwise they will try to flee.
The female black widow has a notorious habit of eating the male after mating, but there are exceptions if the female is already well fed.
This is the most venomous spider in North America, but almost all healthy people who are bitten will recover in a few days. Very few deaths from black widow spider bites are reported in the U.S., but the risk of death from a bite remains.
The bite of a black widow may feel like a pin prick or the victim may feel nothing at all. Two red marks may appear where bitten, along with minor swelling. Pain will become intense within 1 to 3 hours, continuing for up to 2 days, and can spread from a bitten limb into the abdomen or back. Severe cramping or rigidity may occur in the abdominal muscles. The victim may also exhibit other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, shaking, profuse perspiration, and labored speech and breathing, possibly progressing to a weak pulse, clammy skin, unconsciousness, and convulsions. Symptoms often diminish after about a day and are gone after several days. Serious long-term complications or death from a black widow bite are very rare.
References
A fact sheet about the Black Widow
Information about the widow spiders
A fact sheet on the Black Widow, its bite, habitat, and how to get rid of it
Information about the widow spiders, their bite, symptoms of the bite, web, and life cycle
“Commonly Encountered Pennsylvania Spiders” Covers several spiders found throughout the U.S.

Steatoda grossaWill not bite unless provoked

More Pictures Guide Page
The bite of this spider can produce symptoms that are similar, but much less severe than those of a black widow bite. In some cases blistering may form at the site of the bite along with physical discomfort that lasts for several days.
References
Information about Steatoda spiders
Steatoda spiders as competitors/predators of the Hobo spider”
“Commonly Encountered Pennsylvania Spiders” Covers several spiders found throughout the U.S.

Recluse spiders – Genus LoxoscelesWill not bite unless provoked
Loxosceles sp.
Guide Page
Several species of recluse spiders are found in the U.S.; best known
is the infamous Brown Recluse
If you do not live in any of the colored areas on the maps below, then it is quite unlikely that you have a recluse spider. Recluse spiders are only rarely transported outside of their range on or in furniture, boxes, and plants.
See this map for the distribution of recluse spiders in the U.S.
See this map for the distribution of the Brown Recluse.
The Brown Recluse has uniformly colored legs covered with fine hairs. The legs have no stripes, banding, or spines on them. The abdomen is also uniformly colored.
The body of the Brown Recluse is under half an inch in length.
Some species of recluse spiders have a well-defined dark violin-shaped marking on the “head” region of the spider with the neck of the violin pointing toward the abdomen; however this is not a conclusive way to identify a recluse spider. All recluse spiders have six eyes whereas most spiders have eight (this can only be determined with the use of a microscope.)
For more information on how to identify a Brown Recluse see this link.
Recluse spiders are nocturnal, therefore most likely encountered at night when they are foraging for food. During the day recluse spiders hide in secluded places.
Little is known about the venom and bite of the lesser-known species of recluse spiders.
“Although there are suspected variations in virulence among the species, all Loxosceles spiders should be considered potentially capable of producing dermonecrosis (skin necrosis) to some extent.” (1)
Most Brown Recluse bites result in only a small red mark and heal without serious complications.
An interesting fact is the Brown Recluse cannot bite through clothing because of its small fangs.
The bite of the Brown Recluse is usually painless and many go unnoticed for as long as 2 to 8 hours or the victim may feel a stinging sensation later followed by intense pain. A small white blister develops at the site of the bite, followed by swelling of the area. This swollen area enlarges and becomes red. The site becomes painful and hard to the touch. A necrotic lesion develops and the affected tissue dies and slowly sloughs away exposing the underling tissue. This necrotic ulcer may persist for several months and heals slowly, leaving a sunken area of scar tissue.
It is exceedingly hard for a physician to correctly diagnose a "brown recluse bite" based simply on the wound characteristics.
In extremely rare cases, a systemic reaction may occur. Systemic symptoms resulting from a brown recluse bite are kidney failure, black urine (from high levels of hemoglobin in it), and disseminated intravascular coagulation (small blood clots throughout the body).

References Cited
1 Vetter, R. S. Arachnids Submitted as Suspected Brown Recluse Spiders
(Araneae: Sicariidae): Loxosceles Spiders Are Virtually Restricted to
Their Known Distributions but Are Perceived to
Exist Throughout the United States
J. Med. Entomol. 2005; 42(4): 512-521

References
“How to Identify and Misidentify a Brown Recluse Spider”
Information about the Brown Recluse
A fact sheet on the Brown Recluse
A fact sheet on the Brown Recluse with information on how to get rid of it and about the bite
Information about the Brown Recluse and the misidentification of it and its bite
Myths about the Brown Recluse
More about recluse spiders and their bite
This image shows the eye arrangement of recluse spiders
More information on recluse spiders
A picture of the Brown Recluse
“Commonly Encountered Pennsylvania Spiders” Covers several spiders found throughout the U.S.
“Causes of Necrotic Wounds other than Brown Recluse Spider Bites”

Hobo spider

More Pictures Guide Page
The Hobo spider is native to Europe. In the U.S., it is commonly found in the Pacific
Northwest (See this map).
It is very hard to positively identify a Hobo spider. If you think you have found a Hobo spider take it to a specialist.
“…evidence for hobo spider envenomation causing necrotic ulcers consists of one verified bite in a patient with a pre-existing medical condition known to cause ulcer disease, rabbit model bioassays, and many purported envenomations that could easily be ascribed to other etiologies.” (2)

References Cited
2 Vetter, R. S., and Isbister, G. K. Do Hobo Spider Bites Cause Dermonecrotic Injuries?
Ann Emerg Med. 2004; 44:605-607.

References
The Hobo spider website (Contains some out of date information)
Steatoda spiders as competitors/predators of the Hobo spider”
“How to Identify (and Misidentify) a Hobo Spider”

ScorpionsWill not sting unless stepped on or otherwise provoked

More Pictures Guide Page
In the United States, scorpions are most abundant in the semiarid regions of the Southwest.
The sting of most scorpions is not serious and usually results in localized pain, swelling, tenderness and some discoloration.
However, the sting of one scorpion, Centruroides exilicauda, can be fatal. Most healthy adults are not at significant risk; the ones most at risk of dying from a sting by Centruroides exilicauda are children. The site of the sting does not become discolored.
Centruroides exilicauda is found in southeastern California, Arizona, Nevada, southern Utah, and southwestern New Mexico.
References
A fact sheet about scorpions and how to get rid of them
Information about scorpions and their sting
Information about scorpions, their biology and how to get rid of them
An image of Centruroides exilicauda
Information about scorpions, their life cycle, and how to get rid of them

Insects

True Bugs – The larger ones can inflict a painful bite - The chances of getting bitten by any species of true bug are slim, unless you handle one.

More Pictures Guide Page
A small number of true bugs feed on the blood of vertebrates; aside from these, only the larger ones can bite humans, but only if handled

Ants, Bees, & Wasps – Order Hymenoptera
In ants, bees, and wasps the stinger is a modified egg-laying apparatus, so only females can give a venomous sting.
Bee and wasp stings account for almost all of the deaths by insects and arachnid bites/stings in the U.S.
Ordinarily, Hymenoptera venom will only cause local pain and swelling.
However, some individuals, like me, may be allergic to Hymenoptera stings. An allergic reaction to Hymenoptera stings occurs once the victim becomes sensitized to the venom from a previous sting. The allergic reaction is caused by the immune system, which has now been oversensitized to the venom and releases histamines into the bloodstream. Histamines dilate blood capillaries, causing the skin to appear red and feel warm, and also makes the capillaries more permeable, which allows fluid to escape into the tissues. This causes swelling, which is manifested as rapidly appearing hives, accompanied by severe itching. In a severe allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock, the tissues of the throat swell and the victim may have difficulty breathing and, unless promptly treated, death may result
Ants, bees, and wasps will only sting if stepped on, handled or otherwise provoked.

Ants
It is very hard to separate the stinging and biting ants from the many species of harmless ants.
Harvester Ants
Harvester Ants
If the nest is disturbed, these ants bite the intruder and hang on tenaciously while inflicting a very painful sting. The reaction to the sting spreads along the lymph channels with pain lasting for several hours. There are 22 species of harvester ant in the U.S., with only one species (Pogonomyrmex badius – Florida harvester ant) found east of the Mississippi River.
Fire Ants - Can inflict a painful sting
Red Imported Fire Ants
The Red Imported Fire Ant is the most notorious fire ant in the U.S. It was introduced from South America into the United States between 1933 and 1945. Fire ants get their name from their painful stings.
If their nest is stepped on, the workers rush out and sting the feet and legs of the intruder. Each sting results in a small, acutely painful wound that develops into a pustule in 24 to 48 hours. As the pustules heal they become itchy and can become infected.
Field Ants
Field Ants
These are medium-sized ants that occur throughout the United States and are quite common. When they bite they inject a secretion into the wound; because of this their bites are very painful.
References
Information on the Florida harvester ant
Information on Red harvester ants
“The ABC’s of Fire Ants and Their Management”
Information about biting and stinging ants
Information on the Red Imported Fire Ant
More information on the Red Imported Fire Ant
Yet more information about the Red Imported Fire Ant
Information on the Red Imported Fire Ant and how to get rid of it

Bee and wasp stings account for almost all of the deaths by insects and arachnid bites/stings in the U.S.

Bees - Can be deadly if the person is allergic to the venom.

Honey bees

Bumble bees

More Pictures Guide Page

Africanized honeybees (Killer bees) are more aggressive than ordinary honeybees. They guard a larger area around their hives, become upset more easily by humans and machinery, and respond faster and in larger swarms. They will chase threatening humans and animals for as much as a quarter of a mile. Africanized honeybees are from the southern part of Africa. They were brought to southern Brazil, and have since spread as far north as the southwestern U.S.

References
“Africanized Honey Bee Information In Brief” Deals manly with Africanized honeybees in California
Information about bees
A fact sheet about bee and wasp stings
Information about bee stings
Information about bee and wasp stings, allergic reactions to bee and wasp stings, and multiple stings
Information about how to avoid getting stung by bees and wasps
Information about bee sting allergies

Wasps – Can be deadly if the person is allergic to the venom.
Wasps have a smooth, lance-like stinger, meaning that they can sting repeatedly.

Paper wasps

Hornets

Yellowjackets

More Pictures Guide Page

Velvet Ant – (A kind of wasp) - Can give an excruciating sting if handled

More Pictures Guide Page

Tarantula Hawks

Tarantula Hawks can give an excruciating sting that acts more as a deterrent; causes intense pain but almost no damage at all.

Cicada Killer - Can give a very painful sting if handled or otherwise provoked.
Female with prey

Male

Guide Page More Pictures

Male Cicada Killers are very territorial, and will patrol almost constantly in a small area near a nest, flying at anything passing by.

The female hunts for cicadas and when she finds one she will capture and then sting it. The sting only paralyzes the cicada and the female wasp lays an egg on the cicada and then buries it alive as food for the larva. Females may have multiple underground chambers in a single nest with one larva in each chamber. Female Cicada Killers are not aggressive and will not sting unless grabbed or otherwise provoked.

References
A fact sheet on Cicada Killers
Information about wasps
A fact sheet about bee and wasp stings
Information about bee and wasp stings, allergic reactions to bee and wasp stings, and multiple stings
Information about how to avoid getting stung by bees and wasps

Beetles

Blister beetles

More Pictures Guide Page
Pressing or rubbing adult blister beetles may cause them to exude some of their
hemolymph (“blood”), which contains Cantharidin. Cantharidin causes blistering of the skin, thus the name blister beetle.
References
“Blister beetles in alfalfa” Also has information about blister beetle toxicity
Information about blister beetles and their effects on livestock

Moths & Butterflies
Some caterpillars, mainly those of moths, have stinging “hairs” that can cause an irritating reaction when touched.

Saddleback caterpillar

Buck Moth

Io Moth

Puss Caterpillar

Spiny Oak Slug Moth

Hag Moth

Stinging Rose Caterpillar

Hickory Tussock Moth

Family Arctiidae - Tiger Moths

Browntail Moth
An invasive species which, if touched, can cause a rash similar to that of poison ivy. The rash is the result of a toxin in the hairs and the barbed hairs becoming embedded in the skin. In sensitive individuals, the rash may be severe and persist for several weeks. If the hairs are inhaled, respiratory distress may result. In the U.S., the Browntail moth is found in many of the New England states.

References
Information about stinging caterpillars
A fact sheet about stinging caterpillars
More information about stinging caterpillars

Flies

Horse fly larvae – If they are handled roughly or trodden upon with bare feet they can inflict a very painful bite, but their venom is not dangerous to humans

Most horse fly larvae are found in water or moist soil. They are fierce predators, capturing their prey with their sharp sickle-shaped mandibles and paralyzing it with an injection of venom.
Note: Female horse flies feed on the blood of livestock, humans, and other large mammals and in doing so give a painful bite. Male horse flies feed only on nectar.
References
Information on horse and deer flies
More information on horse and deer flies

 
Introduction etc.
An sounds like a good idea; I will start writing one.
As for links I will start adding them too.
I really appreciate your input on this article.
Chris

 
Mistakes, but not stupid
Don't say that! It is such a valuable article and such a monumental job! It is bound to need a great deal of editing.
As for solitary bees and wasps, I have read in several sources that they don't carry a very powerful poison, compared to social ones. I will find out the references when I have more time and get back to you.
Keep up the good work!

 
Thanks
Thanks for your help!

 
Great Article! [Duplicate]
[I somehow managed to create a second identical reply instead of editing the existing one- please ignore this one.]

Various.
Tarantulas are NOT sluggish! Maybe in captivity, but not in the wild, when catching prey. Tarantuala hawks, solitary as they are, have an excrutiating sting that is all bluff: causes intense pain but almost no damage at all (I'll see if I can find the paper Justin Schmidt sent me about that). I'll keep passing things along as they occur to me.

 
Pepsis pain
Wow! What a great job, Chris! Pepsis wasps, are exactly as Eric noted, all pain and no gain...or..loss. The great Arkansas biologist Baerg (first name?) conducted mcuh research on stings and bites. His most intense sting of all: tarantula hawks (and cicada killers). Fortunately, though, both of these huge wasps are quite docile and can be approached (NOT RECOMMENDED!!! just in case) for good photographs.

 
Pepsis
I will add a note about Pepsis wasps stings causing pain but almost no damage. Thanks for your help!

 
Tarantulas etc.
I will change the part about tarantulas and add tarantula hawks to my article.
What about velvet ants? Dr. Art Evans says that they give a sting that is twice as painful as that of an ordinary wasp. Is this correct?
Thanks for your help,
Chris

Chris,
How about the Millipede? See this page.

 
Millipede
Lynette, I will add millipedes if no one has any objections
Thanks so much for your help,
Chris

Very nicely done...
This is a great idea, and I think it will become a great resource! I was just wondering...

Update:
(I took out most of my comments from this post, because I found I was stupid... My suggestions were either blatantly out of scope or already present in some form; I had missed them when reading the article the first half dozen times. Sorry.)

About formatting:
Here's the helper link that is available when posting comments. It gives a simple overview of what is available (although we only have a subset available to us). Formatting can assist the reader in understanding the organization of the article, and the overall readability, and I would be willing to help you with the webpage layout, format, etc. (if you would like). (This was not a meant as criticism in any way for your very good start; I wanted offer my assistance if you would like some...)

 
Thanks
Thanks for you help, all assistance is welcome!
Chris

Spelling, etc.
I was almost immediately derailed in my reading by: "greater chance of DYEING from a bee sting..." So, if I get stung by a bee, what color would I turn?:-) Sorry, I am a writer, so bad spelling is an immediate sign of credibility issues. Also, the hobo spider has NOT been proven as having a venomous bite. Experiments with the venom have not been duplicated, so the jury is still out. It may be the spider carries a bacteria that causes the necrosis. Nobody knows! Those are just two issues I wanted to raise. An arcticle like this cannot be whipped out without a lot of research.

 
Usage: redundancy
On a related note, I don't believe there's any difference between "dangerous" and "potentially dangerous." "Dangerous" doesn't mean actually causing harm at the present moment. It means having the potential to cause harm.

Speaking of places in need of copy editing, "Most orb weavers can or will not bite humans" should be "Most orb weavers cannot or will not bite humans."

I haven't read the whole article to spot similar places. Those two just jumped out at me.

 
Spellling? :)
re:"arcticle"

I've noticed that spelling critiques almost invariably contain at least one spelling error/typo. There must be something subconscious at work.

hmmm...

 
Spelling, etc.
Sorry about the spelling. Should I keep the part about the hobo spider?

 
Hobo spider.
I'd check out the article in the current "Discover" magazine about the hobo spider, then go to the websites listed in there. Also look for Rick(?) Vetter's site, where he talks about non-spider bite causes of necrotic wounds. Fascinating, if not morbid, but shows how easily misdiagnosed many such maladies are.

 
Hobo Spider
Thanks for your help!

 
On the editing side,
I'd also like to add, go easy on the capitals. In my opinion it's the writing equivalent of shouting, and like the spelling, impacts on your credibility. Maybe you should try bold for emphasis - and only where you think the article really warrants it.

What about a link to the relevant BugGuide info pages for each species we have covered here? That way your readers can get to more information without you having to take total reponsibility for providing all of it.

I hope you are not discouraged from working more on this by all our comments - I do think it will be a valuable addition, because so many of our visitors come to BugGuide afraid of being bitten by something they've found. However, for that very reason it has to be a top-notch piece of work.

 
On the editing side,
I can't seem to get the text in bold so I used capitals instead. I will change the capitals as soon as I get a chance. I will try the links if the guide pages have the information or if someone can add the information.

 
for bold,
use "b" in square brackets before your text and "/b" in square brackets after after it like this. Italics are the same but using "i", and should be used for Scientific names.

 
Thanks
Thanks for your help!!!

Great article!
My only comment right now is that I understand that solitary bees and wasps have a very mild sting. It is only the ones that build large nests that carry a more powerful venom. I think that this is worth mentioning along with illustrations of both types of bees and wasps.

 
Thanks
Thanks, I have now changed these parts of my article.

Changes
I have now made most of the changes to my article emphasizing the "not dangerous unless provoked or handled" nature of these insects and arachnids. I have also put import information in capital letters for emphasis.

This is a great start -
however, right now it seems your major emphasis is on the possible horrible results and side effects of encounters with these creatures. I'd like to suggest you expand on the "not dangerous unless provoked or handled" theme in your introduction. A lot of people seem to proceed on the assumption that these creatures are out to get them, when as you point out their dangerous characteristics are for defense (or predation, which may benefit humans indirectly).
I also suggest you list some brief but reliable ID characteristics for those not expert at looking at a single photo and knowing if that's what they have - especially for the spiders and ants which are not so distinctive as some of those wonderful caterpillars. Centipedes too - many people confuse these with millipedes, although once you know they only have one pair of legs per segment and look at head details, the difference is pretty clear.

 
some concerns
Sorry for the late response but I looked through the article just yesterday. From a purely academic viewpoint, I think the information it contains is interesting and even fascinating in places, and I'm sure that researching & writing the article was a valuable learning experience. However, when people who are unfamiliar with bugs encounter them (usually in or around the home), they often want specific advice on what to do.

My first advice - applicable to any and all bugs - would be "Don't touch." If people followed that advice, virtually all the bugs listed in the article would lose their Dangerous label and be downgraded to "potentially harmful". Poison ivy and stinging nettle are potentially harmful also, but I wouldn't call them dangerous; don't touch them and they won't hurt you. If people don't follow that advice and get harmed by a bug, that's not the bug's fault.

Other helpful advice could include how to safely and easily remove bugs from your home (some methods have been mentioned in BugGuide), how to behave when a flying wasp comes close to you, how to "bug-proof" your home, etc.

My main concern with the article is similar to Hannah's above: many of the bugs on the list have acquired an undeserved reputation of being nasty, aggressive, dangerous, out to get you, etc., and this misinformation gets passed down from one generation to the next. For anyone who already has a fear of bugs, I suspect that the article is more likely to confirm than dispel that fear (i.e. when bug-phobic people see the long list of "dangerous" bugs and multiple examples of unpleasant side effects, painful bites, and lethal reactions to stings, they're liable to say, "Yikes - bugs really ARE bad news!")

Some alternatives ideas: a series of coupled statements (e.g. Myth:____ followed by Fact:____), a "True or False" quiz, a multiple-choice questionnaire, or a list of unusual or little-known factual statements in the Ripley's Believe-it-or-not style - all designed to lessen people's unreasonable fear and encourage them to "look and learn, but don't touch."

I've spent thousands of hours in the field in the presence of and surrounded by bugs, but have never been stung by a bee or wasp, and have never been harmed by any arthropod. From that experience, I've learned that bugs are not dangerous: I don't bother them, and they don't bother me. Part of the statement on BugGuide's home page reads "...to instill in others the fascination and appreciation that we share for the intricate lives of these oft-maligned creatures." In my opinion, an article on Dangerous Arachnids and Insects is at odds with that statement, and is more likely to perpetuate the myth that bugs are dangerous.

 
small children or babies
leave them alone? What about my one year old who was playing in the leaves. Before I knew it, it wasn't a leaf she was holding, she was holding some kind of furry caterpillar that left 3/4 of its toxic hair in her little hands. I couldn't tell you if she is experiencing pain or not but she is certainly very uncomfortable. So yes it is good to know of the dangers of certain insects. Unfortunatly the one that got her is not on this site. I'll keep searching...

 
some concerns
I have made some changes to may article in light of your comment.
Thanks for your input.

 
Thanks
Thanks for your advice, I will put in some reliable ID characteristics.

 
Yes, good start.
I agree with Hannah on all her points. Plus, regarding the brown recluse, it is only one species in the genus Loxosceles, all of which can cause necrotic bites. Here in the southwest we have at least two or three species, but not THE brown recluse. Keep up the great work!

 
Thanks
Thanks, I will change the "Brown Recluse" part of the article.

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