10 Bugs That Will Make You Squirm

The shadow of a bug on the wall

Matt Reinbold / Flickr

From insects to annelids, we humans have a love-hate relationship with creepy crawlies (or "sluggies," in some cases). Some, like earthworms, enrich our soil. Others, like locusts, can annihilate crops. But then there are the "icky" bugs which, regardless of whether they are harmless or harmful, make even the most fearless among us shriek and run out of the room. Here are just a few to make you squirm.

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Photo: By KPixMining/Shutterstock

Ticks are blood-feeding parasites often found in tall grass and shrubs, waiting to attach to a passing host. To latch onto the host, the tick inserts its mandibles and feeding tube into the skin and sucks away. They are often seen in animals living outdoors, but humans are by no means immune to attracting these parasites. Be careful when removing them! Merely plucking them off the skin may leave their head still in the wound, which could result in an infection.

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These guys look dangerous for a reason — they are! All scorpions possess venom to paralyze or kill their prey. When inflicted on humans, some of the toxin's effects include anaphylactic shock, vomiting, compromised vision, cramps and even death. The encouraging news is that scorpions usually only sting humans in defensive situations like being stepped on, mishandled or entangled in clothes. So, check your coat pocket before you put it on!

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For anyone who remembers the infamous leech scene from Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me," it isn't hard to imagine why these bloodsucking annelids fuel so much fear. Leeches are hermaphroditic and can live in saltwater, freshwater and even land. The side effects of a leech bite are usually itchiness as the wound heals, though some people experience more severe allergic or anaphylactic reactions.

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rizalis (malaysian macro team)/Flickr.

There are about 4,000 species of cockroaches — 30 of which are associated with human habitats. Although they prefer warmer climates, the hardiness of cockroaches enables them to survive without sustenance in any area for at least a month. Because of this, it is commonly said that they will "inherit the Earth" due to their remarkable endurance in inhospitable environments.

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House centipedes


This particular creepy crawly can usually be found in bathrooms, basements and other cool, humid areas. When outside, you can usually find house centipedes burrowed under rocks or logs. They are harmless to humans, yet they invoke gazes of fascinated horror from passers-by.

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Ant invasions

Wally Hartshorn/Flickr.

A single ant is rarely intimidating enough to produce squeamish reactions from humans, but a huge swarm of these buggers crawling all over your kitchen countertop is an entirely different story. Aside from Antarctica, ants have colonized virtually every landmass in the world. They're smart, orderly and possess a clear "power in numbers." So make sure you put away that leftover food or deal the aftermath of an ant invasion!

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Bed bugs


Lurking deep within your mattress, you might be unpleasantly surprised to find an unexpected occupant sleeping with you. Bed bugs are small, pesty insects that feast on human blood during the night. The bites, which appear as inflamed red bumps or flat welts, are usually accompanied with incessant itchiness. Sleep tight; don't let the bed bugs bite!

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Brown recluse spiders


Most spiders are relatively harmless, but there are a few species — many with extremely potent venoms — that can and will bite a human if they feel threatened. The brown recluse, native to the South-Midwest United States, is one of these. A recluse's bite will induce vomiting, fever, nausea, rashes and muscle or joint pain, and some bites may result in effects as severe as a necrotizing ulcer that can take months to heal.

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Slugs, like the banana slug here, are squishy individuals that are generally harmless to humans. Despite their unassuming appearance, they can cause quite a bit of trouble for the agricultural business by feeding on fruits and vegetables. On the flip-side, they lend a hand in their ecosystem by consuming fungus and decaying organic material.

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Head lice

Eran Finkle/Flickr.

These little guys are arguably one of the most prominent school-aged nuisances in society today. Spread through direct head-to-head contact with an already infested individual, head lice are especially common in children. Lice prompt excessive itching, and if scratched, may result in infected sores. Chemical rinses and special combs are used to get rid of the parasites and their eggs, known as "nits."