Your brain on bugs: Can you ID these insects?

Insects
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See if you know the difference between a bedbug, a beetle and these other creepy-crawlies.

Question 1 of 8

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Ghost ant
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There are more than 10,000 species of ants. They are some of the smallest yet strongest insects, able to lift things three times their body weight, according to National Geographic. Like other insects, their bodies can be divided into three main portions — the head, thorax and abdomen. Unlike other insects, their midsection between the thorax and gaster (which is what the bulbous part of the abdomen is called) is thinner than other insects, giving it a “pinched” appearance. This area is called a node. Ants can be further divided into two categories – one node ants and two-node ants. Ants with a white gaster are called ghost ants since they can be very hard to see.

Question 2 of 8

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Japanese cockroach
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Cockroaches have flat, oval-shaped bodies. Palmetto bugs, which is another name for the American cockroach, are usually reddish-brown in color. Contrary to popular belief, some cockroaches can fly, but they aren't very good at it. They usually take to running if they are being chased.

Question 3 of 8

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Bedbugs are brownish in color (unless they’ve just had a meal, in which case they’ll take on a redder appearance). Bedbugs have a distinctly larger head than carpet beetles and can only walk (whereas adult fleas have long, strong hind legs and can jump). They are also rounder than head lice, which are long and tear-shaped. Bedbugs are often found on mattresses and upholstered furniture.

Question 4 of 8

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Earwig
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Contrary to popular belief, earwigs do not burrow into humans’ ears when we’re sleeping. They are identified by their characteristic forceps coming off the end of their abdomen, which are also called cerci. Though they look more menacing than many other insects, they are a relatively harmless nuisance.

Question 5 of 8

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Camel cricket
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The camel cricket (also called a cave cricket) has a large hump on its back and large hind legs that allow it to jump high and fast to avoid capture. It resembles both a spider and a cricket and is not dangerous. Its presence is indicative of humid environments; get rid of the humidity in your home and a camel cricket will likely find another place to hang out — and someone else to scare out of their pants.

Question 6 of 8

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Ixodes scapularis, the eastern North America black-legged tick.
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Like spiders, ticks have eight legs. They are brown or black, teardrop shaped and can resemble a watermelon seed. Be sure to check yourself (and your kids) when you come in from playing in wooded areas where ticks are common, since they can carry serious diseases such as Lyme disease.

Question 7 of 8

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close-up of termites
USDA/Wikimedia Commons
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If you were paying attention at the beginning this quiz, you'd know these couldn’t be ants, because ants appear to have pinched waists just above the gaster.

Termites can be much more nefarious than your typical ant. Because they eat wood, they can destroy entire structures and may not be discovered until they’ve done significant damage. Here’s what to do if you suspect a termite infestation.

Question 8 of 8

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Stink bug
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Adult stink bugs are often brown with straight antennae and bodies shaped like a shield. They feast on fruit, though some are predators that will eat other insects. In late summer, they congregate around homes to find shelter for the winter inside walls or attics. In the spring, you may see them gathering on your walls or windows trying to get out.

And true to their name, they do stink.

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Insects
Photo: Kedsirin.J/Shutterstock
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