The AWESOMEVICE!!1!!1! to ZOMG!!! guide to insects and scary things in the USA
A: A is for AWSOMEVICE!!1!1! as well as the assassin bug. The assassin bug is definitely found in Texas. It is actually harmless and eats things like boll weevils.
B: Black widow spider – they do exist out here, but they aren’t (quite) as scary as they have been made out to be – a bite is not likely to be fatal, but you do need to go to hospital. As a general rule try to avoid completely squashing a spider if it bites you – identification by the professionals is a lot easier when they are not flat. Of course, this is much easier to type than in practice. Brown Recluse Spider - pure distilled evil. Google images of Brown Recluse bites --- that's really all you'll ever need to know.
C: Cockroaches – they are quick, they can fit through small gaps, they can fly, walk up walls. They are really annoying. Also, Coral Snakes (red on yellow, kill the fellow), Cottonmouth snakes- avoid. Crazy Ants (also known as Raspberry Ants). They really are crazy, millions of them running around in circles. They tend to gather round the outside of the house and eat into the electric and cable wires, and AC units. There seems to be no known deterent available right now, even the Pest Control companies cannot guarantee being able to destroy them.
D: Dirt Dauber – also know as a mud dauber – these things are a type of wasp. The females build a nest made of dirt on the side of your house. They are not aggressive and stings are very uncommon. A power washer gets rid of the nest in a jiffy. Deer tick - (AKA black-legged tick--though how anyone can tell what colour the legs of a poppy seed sized insect are is puzzling.) A big summer problem in the northeast (and north central) USA, they carry a half-dozen nasty diseases, including the most famous--Lyme disease. Lyme cases have actually been reported in almost all states, but are supposedly rarer in the south & west. If you are bitten, save the tick (in a tight container) and try to get it to a testing lab.
E: Earwigs – just ewwww. Why? What is the point of these?
F: Fire Ants – these are very aggressive ants that will try to swarm you and then start biting once they are on you. Typically find the anthills in gardens -watch your step. The anthills will spring up especially quickly after a rain when it has been dry for a while.
G: Gecko – they get everywhere in hotter climates. The good thing is they eat lots of other insects, like cockroaches. They do not violate the leg rule. Greenhead flies are vicious biting horseflies that plague the beaches of Cape Cod in July and early August. They completely disappear the night of the August full moon. The only thing that reliably keeps them away is swabbing your arms, legs, neck etc. with Tanqueray gin.
H: Horseflies – Flies that are the size of a horse, and leave a bite the size of a horse’s kick. Also Heartworm – an important one to know about if you have pets. These are carried by mosquitos, are prevalent and fatal to the pet. Prevented with a once a month pill that you get from the vet. Note that you should have your pet tested before first getting the pill, as the treatment for an animal with heartworm is not the same as the preventative.
I: Indigo snake – this thing is big and a dark purple/black (hence the name…) – good news – it’s not venomous! There is also a related one called a Texas Indigo Snake – presumably this one is bigger, better and wears a hat.
J: Jumping spiders – I sh*t you not. They can be tiny to nearly an inch big. It’s an inch and it jumps. Thankfully they are not harmful to humans otherwise they would rule the planet.
K: King snake – can be confused for a coral snake, but this one is not poisonous – red on black, alright jack.
L: Leg Rule – anything with more than 5 legs is essentially evil. If you need a ruling please contact Nutek, the BritishExpats.com official adjudicator.
M: Mosquitos – argh there are a lot of these buggers over here. Some of them are the size of small birds. DDT is too good for these. Some plants are meant to deter them – things like citronella plants, geraniums and lemon grass.
N: No see ums – tiny little annoying gnat like flies that leave a bloody big bite.
O: Odd beetle – you would be surprised how few common insects there are beginning with the letter O. They are partial to eating furs, so watch your mink collection.
P: Pantry beetles – these are small beetles that can be brought into your pantry in just about anything you buy from the store. If you get them, you will not be able to get rid of them without essentially throwing everything away and bleaching the pantry. It is not the stupidest idea to keep your food inside plastic containers to prevent having to throw away hundreds of dollars of groceries. Paper wasps – a wasp with a sting that is worse than a regular British wasp (a yellow jacket), but they are nowhere near as aggressive. They will make a nest on any sheltered bit of a building and are a frequent sight in the south.
Q: Queen bees, or at least the queen of a paper wasp – these will “sleep” in a group of 50 or more out of the cold weather in the winter in the south – you know, sheltered areas like your closed parasol or things like that. All the other paper wasps are dead at this point of the year.
R: Rabid wolf spider – sounds really scary, but isn’t to humans. Thankfully.
S: Scorpions – again, not necessarily as scary as we think. Only about 25 of the 1500 types out there are able to kill a human. They can be all over the place, but won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Stink bugs, also known as shield bugs because of their shape. These emit a foul-smelling liquid which is used to deter predators. Think of them as the skunk of the insect world.
T: Termites – unsurprisingly, these things are related to cockroaches. They are famous for eating wood, and they will quite happily munch on the foundations of your house. Having an annual termite inspection can be a very sensible thing to do in the USA.
U: Underwater things – like Patrick the Starfish – they have 5 legs, and are therefore great.
V: Vipers – pit vipers, of which the rattlesnake is one of. If it rattles avoid it. They aren’t particularly aggressive as snakes, but best avoided.
W: weevils – a generic term for a little beetle. There is nothing particularly scary about these, but they do violate the leg rule, so be careful out there.
X: Xerces butterfly – this is an extinct butterfly from San Francisco. You try thinking of something beginning with X.
Y: Yellow jacket – what a Brit calls a wasp. All of a sudden these don’t seem as scary.
Z: Zebra swallowtail butterfly – at least this one is still with us. Not harmful to humans.