Most Dangerous Pests in North America

Spiders, Snakes and Bugs that Pack a Venomous Punch

Compared to some other continents (Australia springs to mind), North America is pretty tame. Of course, we do have our poisonous pests, but it's a testament to our safe little continent that I could only find a few really dangerous venomous land animals. These are all creepy-crawlies; not a hairy, four-legged mammal in the bunch.

The following are the critters most likely to ruin your day. Some could be deadly, but most are just severely unpleasant. Avoid them all, but if you're unlucky enough to get a bite or a sting, don't hesitate to see a doctor.

Mojave Rattlesnakes

Count these guys among the deadly of the group. The Mojave rattlesnake has two kinds of venom:

  • Type A affects the nerves, but shows very little sign of envenomation at the bite.
  • Type B has a local reaction at the bite, but doesn't do as much to the nervous system.

There's no way to tell the difference between a type A Mojave rattlesnake and a type B until you get bit. Doctors might miss it if type A bites you, but type A is the most deadly if they don't treat it right away.

Mojave rattlesnakes live in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, southern California, New Mexico and Texas.

Bees and Wasps

Stinging bee
Bee stinging a human. Dimas Ardian/Getty Images

The venom of the common bee isn't so bad, except that lots of people are severely allergic to it. Unfortunately, you don't know if you're allergic to bees until you get stung and have an allergic reaction, which can be deadly.

Incidentally, one of the biggest myths of first aid concerns the treatment of bee stings.

Bark Scorpions

Bark scorpion
Bark scorpion that stung a child. (c) Kevin Reilly, MD

These babies are as dangerous as they are ugly. Bark scorpions live in much of the same area as Mojave rattlesnakes: Arizona, Mexico, New Mexico and a tiny sliver of California.

Black Widow Spiders

Brown recluse spiders get lots of press due to their infamous bites. They can be nasty, for sure, but black widow spiders are far more likely to make you sick. I think people are more scared of brown recluse spiders because they are so hard to identify. Black widow spiders, on the other hand, are easy to pick out of a crowd. I think it's the big red hourglass and the glossy black paint job.

Brown Recluse Spiders

brown recluse spider
Image courtesy of CDC

After all that about black widow spiders, I don't want you to think that brown recluse spiders aren't all they're cracked up to be. Brown recluses can certainly pack a serious punch. The thing is: most of the supposed brown recluse spider bites aren't from spiders at all.

Most of the sores that are diagnosed (either by oneself or by a doctor) as spider bites are really just skin infections.

Not to mention it's really hard to identify a brown recluse spider. It's either to figure out that it's not a brown recluse.

Continue Reading