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Identifying Poisonous Bugs & Critters That Creep Around in the U.S.



The world of RVing opens our eyes to all that our spectacular country has to offer—beautiful national monuments, awe-inspiring national parks, larger-than-life waterfalls, rugged mountain terrain, seemingly endless fields of grain, barren deserts, and so much more. It just depends on which direction you point your RV. But no matter where you go, you're also bound to encounter some bugs and critters that you'd be better off staying away from. While some may be cute and fuzzy, others have the ability to turn your RVing getaway into a nightmare in an instant with just one bite or sting. Before hitching up and heading down the road, familiarize yourself with these poisonous bugs and critters that call the great outdoors home.


The Brown Recluse Spider


This insect tops my list because it hits close to home for me. Years ago my grandmother was bitten by a Brown Recluse spider while raking leaves at our Lake Michigan cottage, and the wound NEVER healed, even after seeking help from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. For the next 15 years, until she passed away, she had an open wound on her ankle that had to be cleaned and dressed every day. These little guys are nasty! Planning a fun RVing trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee? Get to know these creepers!


Location:

Often found in the central Midwestern states (Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Kansas, Alabama), but they can travel in boxes and on trucks/planes to other states


How to identify:

Normally between 8-12mm-long, this small spider has 6 eyes instead of 8 arranged in a semicircle on its cephalothorax (head/thorax), also where you will see it's violin-shaped marking.


Their weapon:

The bite of a Brown Recluse injects a poison that some people have a bad reaction to, while others may not have any reaction to at all. Even though they're initially painless, the area will usually develop a bulls-eye ring accompanied by redness, swelling, and burning. A blister can form in the middle in a few days. It hardens and can take up to two months to totally go away.


How to avoid:

They typically hide out in dark, quiet places, so it's easy to disturb one without even know it. Check bedding before crawling in or clothes that have been untouched for a while before putting them on.


Black Widow Spiders


If you're taking your RV on a fun trip to the American Southwest, such as to Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah, beware! They like hot, desert-like climates. They are named after the female of the species who bites and then eats the male after mating. Talk about a bad date!


Location:
Southwestern states like Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada; also found in the four major SW deserts (Mojave, Sonoran, Great Basin, and Chihuahuan)


How to identify:
The female has a red hourglass shape on its fat, round abdomen and it's the larger of the species; the male is about a third of the size of the female and it's thinner and has longer, skinnier legs


Their weapon:
Its bite releases a poisonous venom that is typically non-life threatening, but in severe cases (or for young children or seniors) it can attack the nervous system and cause swelling, nausea, muscular spasms, breathing/swallowing problems, sweating, fever, and paralysis. Luckily, in most cases, the amount of venom released from a bite is too small to be life threatening.


How to avoid:
Black Widows love dark, dry places like barns, sheds, garages, outhouses, brush, and trash. You can treat areas with pesticides that are specifically formulated for poisonous spiders.


Arizona Bark Scorpions


Any insect or critter that likes to eat its own kind (cannibal!) goes right to the top of my list of things to avoid while on vacation! These prehistoric-looking creepers have even been found alive (and smelling like a rose) right at a U.S. nuclear testing site!


Location:
They call the southwestern Sonoran Desert in southern California, southern Utah, and Arizona home. They can also be found south of the border in Mexico.


How to identify:
Small and light brown, the male is just over 3" long, while the female is typically under 3" long.


Their weapon:
Scorpions inject their venom by stinging, not biting. Death is rare, but the venom affects young children and seniors more than other populations. The venom causes severe numbness, tingling, vomiting, and severe pain in the area of the sting that can last a few days.


How to avoid:
Don't frolic in mesquite, sycamore, or cottonwood groves! They love the humid, moist air in these areas. They also like to hide in wood piles and under rocks when the sun overhead gets too hot for them, so avoid poking around in these types of place.


Brown Tail Moth


Maine is one of my all-time favorite camping destinations, so I'm not too excited to hear that the Brown Tail Moth calls this area home. It won't deter me from going back, but I will be keeping my eyes peeled for these seemingly harmless (but not!) white moths.


Location:
These are considered an invasive species in Maine and Cape Cod, MA.


How to identify:
They have wings and a body as white as the snow, but the small tuft of brown hairs on their tails gives them away. At 1-2" long, they're petite.


Their weapon:
They're not a stinger, a biter, or a pincher. In fact, they don't knowingly inflict pain on you. But when you come into contact with one and its hairs break off and impale your skin, you'll feel it! Their barb-like hairs create an oozy rash that can last for weeks. Even worse, if you inhale hairs from a Brown Tail Moth (why would one be by your mouth to begin with?), you may suffer from headaches and breathing problems. Since the hairs can become airborne, it is actually possible to inhale them even if you're not face to face with one of these snow-white creatures.


How to avoid:
Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when raking or cutting the grass will help protect you from the airborne hairs. And since these moths like apple and oak trees, avoid spending time in or under them. And if you live in Maine and notice moths nesting in your trees, call a professional to take care of them or remove them yourself if you can reach them. Drown or burn them if you do the work yourself.


RVing is loads of fun, and you should not be deterred from taking off on a memorable camping vacation just because of a few poisonous little buggers that might be hiding nearby. Set off on an epic family getaway to see the sights with your new RV from All Seasons RV, but just be sure to keep an eye to the ground (or air) for anything that might want to creep in on your good time.

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