How Much Do You Know About Scary Yet Harmless Bugs?

By: John Miller
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Camping is a favorite pastime for millions of people. You can get outside, sneak away from the stress of home and work, and just relax. Imagine the fresh air, hot dogs over an open flame and reading to the sweet chirp of evening birds laying down to rest. Nothing could be more tranquil. That is, until something large, hissing and erratically flying lands on the tip of your nose as you lounge in the hammock. 

What's your first reaction? Scream? Twist and spin out of the way? Or, do you ball up your fist and land a solid punch to your nose, hoping to knock the hideous thing out? Well, the rational mind would say, figure out what the insect is first, and then respond. But, in a seemingly life-and-death situation you may not have that much time to think. Luckily you can test your knowledge of those scary yet harmless bugs with this quiz. 

Can that Zen-like praying mantis bite you? And if so, will it? If a Goliath Birdeater gets too close, will it caw, hiss, bite or run away? Is the myth true that daddy long legs have the most potent venom in the world? And do earwigs actually crawl into your ears to lay their eggs deep in your brain? 

From myth to fact, explore this quiz and the world of scary yet harmless bugs with this quiz!

What will a praying mantis do if it feels threatened?

Praying mantises are one of nature's coolest-looking insects, a cross between a funky mutant fly and a Transformer. Larger specimens that feel threatened can indeed bite you … but that bite isn't dangerous.

How big does a praying mantis need to be in order to bite a human?

Small mantises (under two inches long) can't really get their jaws on you. Larger specimens might be able to chew on you a little, but because there's no venom, they can't really hurt you.

Hercules beetles are among the _____ beetles in the world.

The Hercules beetle is among the largest beetles on the planet. From tip to tip, they can measure around 7 inches long. And in spite of vicious-looking horns, they are quite harmless to humans.

True or false: Tarantulas are aggressive toward humans..

Tarantulas are downright teddybear-like compared to many of nature's creatures. Handled gently, they make great pets and do not exhibit aggression towards humans.

Millipedes aren't dangerous to humans, but when they are scared, they can _____.

Millipedes don't pose a danger to people. But they can eject a disgusting-smelling liquid that might cause skin irritation. If that happens, be sure to wash off the fluid as soon as possible.

What does a goliath birdeater spider do if you get too close?

Found in South America, the Goliath birdeater is the biggest spider in the world. They can bite people, but the venom isn't very dangerous. Hopefully, when you hear the loud warning hissing sound, you'll be smart enough to steer clear of these creatures.

With regard to humans, how toxic is tarantula venom?

Tarantula venom is not very toxic with regard to humans. In the very unlikely event that you wind up bitten, you may not even know the venom is in your system. That, or you'll shrivel up into a pool of partially-melted flesh, or maybe that's just from a horror movie from the '80s.

Millipedes have a name that implies that they have 1,000 legs. How many legs do they actually have?

Millipedes rarely have more than a few hundred legs, and nowhere near 1,000. Want to prove us wrong? By all means, sit there and count them.

What is the only way a Hercules beetle is likely to harm you?

The Hercules beetle is huge and can weigh nearly 4 ounces. They are docile creatures, but their weight (and spiny legs) may scratch you if you decide to pick one up using your bare hands.

Hover flies are flies that look like ____.

Hover flies are flies that look like bees. They have black and yellow stripes just like bees, but they actually lack stingers and can't hurt you.

How many pairs of wings do hover flies have?

Hover flies have just one pair of wings. Bees and wasps both have two pairs of wings. So -- two wings mean fun, four wings mean run. Eight wings mean you're probably facing off with homicidal hellspawn, so simply break down sobbing.

Why are so many people terrified of tarantulas?

Tarantulas are victims of their own gentleness, which makes them very easy to handle … perfect for Hollywood movie sets. But they are one of the most docile spiders around.

Camel spiders are also known as ____.

Camel spiders are also known as sun spiders or wind spiders, and they are more like scorpions than spiders. They can reach lengths of 6 inches and can run up to 10 MPH, so if you want a head start, now's the time. But they won't hurt you.

The arachnid known as "daddy longlegs" is more accurately called _____.

Daddy longlegs (harvestmen) are a type of opiliones, and there are around 6,500 species around the world. There is a persistent myth that their venom is perhaps the deadliest on Earth. Few species even have venom, and they aren't dangerous to people.

What do harvestmen eat?

Harvestmen are the opposite of your toddler -- they aren't picky. They'll eat bits of food from just about any source, including insects, plants, and fungi. They do not, however, eat people. Probably.

True or false: Are millipedes and centipedes the same thing?

Centipedes and millipedes are actually different in a lot of ways and belong to different classes of creatures. And while millipedes are never dangerous, centipede venom can (very rarely) produce a reaction in humans.

How do antlion larvae capture their prey?

Antlion larvae are vicious little creatures -- they often make shallow pits to conceal their presence and then pounce on passing creatures. But in spite of their scary appearance, they can't hurt people.

What is the effect of antlion larvae venom on humans?

Antlion larvae are aggressive toward other bugs, but they avoid humans. In the unlikely event of a bite, you might experience a bit of irritation, nothing more.

True or false: Can earwigs use their forceps to cause a painful pinch?

Let's face it -- earwigs are freaky little demon bugs that would be right at home in a sci-fi horror flick. And yes, those little pincers (especially on a large male) can pinch you in a way that might hurt. The good news is that earwigs don't have any dangerous venom.

True or false: Earwigs crawl into human ears to lay their eggs.

It's true, earwigs burrow deep into the human skull to lay their eggs. When the young larva hatch, they cause excruciating pain by feeding on the cerebellum, which typically results in death. We probably made all of that up. Earwigs don't do that.

What do earwigs eat?

Earwigs seem like the kind of horrifying creatures that would set out to destroy humankind. But mostly you'll find them sedately chomping on plants of all kinds, particularly clover, lettuce and other healthy greens.

What's the first thing that you will notice about a centipede that's in your house?

If you see a centipede in your house, you'll immediately notice the legs. They also have very long antennae, as well as appendages on its rear. They are also incredibly fast and able to crawl at around a foot and a half per second.

What will happen if a house centipede bites you?

Yes, you might utter some vulgarities if a centipede has the gall to bite you -- but that's pretty unlikely. And if you're bitten, the venom won't hurt you. You're more likely to have a heart attack when you see how fast these freaky bugs can run.

Whip spiders look like a cross between a spider and _____.

Whip spiders are wicked-looking creatures that seem to be a cross between a spider and scorpion. Happily, they have no stingers and no venom, so they aren't dangerous to humans.

What do hover flies eat?

Hover flies look like bees but they actually don't even have stingers. They eat aphids, which means they are a very beneficial creature for your garden.

How big are the biggest camel crickets?

Including the long legs, camel crickets can be nearly 4 inches long. With their long legs and antenna, they are pretty creepy … but totally harmless.

True or false: Can harvestmen (daddy longlegs) bite humans?

Myth has it that daddy longlegs' fangs are too short to bite humans. This is false -- some species can indeed bite people. Then, everyone dies. Just kidding, the venom won't hurt you.

What sort of impact can a deathwatch beetle have on your life?

Deathwatch beetles aren't venomous or anything. They do like to chew on old wood, though, so they might contribute to problems with your home's structural integrity.

How likely is it that cockroaches will bite people?

Cockroaches have one of the worst reputations in the entire insect world, but many misconceptions surround this bug. It's very unlikely that roaches would bite you, and only in extreme cases … and the bites aren't venomous.

What is one of the most impressive things about cockroaches?

Cockroaches are very fast, so fast that you often can't catch them. Yes, they'll gnaw on people when food becomes scarce, or perhaps eat the eyelashes off of a sleeping child. But they aren't a true hazard.

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