You may have recently seen a viral post about giant hogweed, or already know to avoid itch-inducing poison ivy, but identifying these common summer fun stealers when you’re outdoors and off Facebook can prove a whole lot tougher than you thought.

Test your knowledge about the top 10 warm-weather nuisances by picking out the real culprits from the imposters below:

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deer tick and june bug

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ANSWER: Left

Ticks carry pathogens that spread several serious illnesses, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Powassan disease. Avoid them by wearing insect repellent and staying in the center of trails when walking in wooded or brushy areas. Remove ticks as soon as you see them with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. As for the bug on the right, that’s a June bug, which may cause damage to your lawn but won’t harm you.

Good job if you got this one right, but it only gets harder from here.

brown spiders

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ANSWER: Left

The brown recluse spider is one of two venomous spiders in North America you should learn to identify, with the other being the black widow. You’ll find them mostly in the Midwest and South, hiding in dry, sheltered areas like underneath structures, logs, rocks, and leaves or indoors in attics, closets, or shoes, the Centers for Disease Control states. You can distinguish them from common house spiders (seen on the right) by looking for the dark violin-shaped marking behind the head.

giant hogweed and queen anne's lace

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ANSWER: Left

Once prized as an ornamental plant, the towering giant hogweed is anything but beautiful if you accidentally brush against it. The noxious weed is covered in toxic sap that can cause painful burns and scarring when exposed to UV light from the sun. When giant hogweed reaches its full height of 14 feet, there’s no mistaking it: The lobed leaves span 5 feet across and the flowers alone grow 1 to 2 feet wide. However, the plant doesn’t begin to blossom until it reaches maturity. Any smaller plant with wide, white flowerheads (like Queen Anne’s lace, on the right) isn’t giant hogweed.

You can scout out hogweed before it grows giant by looking for plants in sunny or partially shaded sites with with purple blotches and white hairs on the stem. If the weed has both of those qualities, there’s a strong chance it’s the real thing.

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Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy

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ANSWER: Right

Urushiol oils on poison ivy can induce a nasty case of allergic contact dermatitis if you accidentally brush up against it. The itchy, oozing, blistering rash is the last thing you need in the middle of sundress season. Identify it by looking for three leaflets on each leaf, with the leaves arranged in an alternating pattern on the stem.

While commonly mistaken for poison ivy, the plant on the left is Virginia Creeper, a five-leaved vine in the grape family. You can even safely grow it in your garden and enjoy the bright red foliage in the fall.

Kissing Bug and Stink Bug

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ANSWER: Left

Also called “kissing bugs,” triatomine bugs spread Chagas disease, a parasitic infection currently affecting more than 300,000 people in the U.S., according to the CDC. While the infection may present mild or no symptoms, Chagas can increase your risk of death by causing heart rhythm abnormalities — not good.

As for the insect on the right, that’s the brown marmorated stink bug: a common house pest that’s worst offense is releasing a bad odor when squashed.

Honeybee and Bald-Faced Hornet

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ANSWER: Right

That little guy on the left is a helpful honeybee; foraging bees will generally leave you alone unless the hive is provoked. (You should still take care if you’re allergic to stings, however.)

On the other hand, there’s the bald-faced hornet. This species is extremely protective of the nest and will aggressively attack people. And unlike bees, wasps and hornets, the bald-face hornet can sting multiple times, according to Orkin. You should safely remove wasp nests near your home, but also check out these tips on keeping wasps away in the first place.

Zizia aurea and Wild Parsnip

Getty/Naja Kraus

ANSWER: Right

A relative of giant hogweed, wild parsnip contains the same dangerous chemical in its sap that can cause severe burns. It doesn’t grow as tall, but you can pick wild parsnip out by looking for clustered yellow flowers and hairless, grooved stems with coarsely toothed leaves.

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The plant on the left is the nearly-identical Zizia aurea, also called golden Alexander — a native perennial and important plant food for the Missouri woodland swallowtail butterfly, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. If you think you’ve found the former, contact your local state authority or extension service for more information.

fire ants and black ants

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ANSWER: Left

Found across the Southeastern U.S., reddish-colored fire ants bite and sting, injecting venom into their victims after latching on with their powerful mandibles. Besides the immediate burning sensation, the red bumps turn into white fluid-filled pustules within a couple days — yuck.

To avoid provoking their ire, don’t go near or disturb ant mounds, the CDC advises. Brush them off quickly if bitten before they can attach to the skin. While other ant species won’t wreak so much havoc, you’ll still want to keep them out of your home as they can spread foodborne illness.

fruit fly and horse fly

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ANSWER: Right

Lots of flies pose a mild nuisance — like the fruit fly on the left — but the knife-like mouthparts of horse flies make their bites especially painful, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Further scratching can then lead to a secondary infection. Spray insect repellent with deet or permethrin and wear long sleeves and pants to help protect your skin from these blood-drinking parasites.

box elder and poison oak

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ANSWER: Right

Like poison ivy, poison oak causes a similar uncomfortable reaction due to the urushiol oils present on the plant. This shrub or vine also has three leaflets with alternating leaves on the steam. However, the leaflets have somewhat toothed or lobed edges, the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program states. The sapling on the left is a young box elder tree, which has leaf stems directly across from each other on the branch.


https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a22629250/dangerous-plants-bugs-quiz/

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