U.S. Army Field Survival Manual


Insects are often overlooked as a danger to the survivor. More people in the United States die each year from bee stings, and resulting anaphylactic shock, than from snake bites. A few other insects are venomous enough to kill, but often the greatest danger is the transmission of disease.

Scorpionidae order

Description: Dull brown, yellow, or black. Have 7.5- to 20-centimeter long lobsterlike pincers andjointed tail usually held over the back. There are 800 species of scorpions.

Habitat: Decaying matter, under debris, logs, and rocks. Feeds at night. Sometimes hides in boots.

Distribution: Worldwide in temperate, arid, and tropical regions.

Scorpions sting with their tails, causing local pain, swelling, possible incapacitation, and death.

Brown house spider or brown recluse spider
Laxosceles reclusa

Description: Brown to black with obvious "fiddle" on back of head and thorax. Chunky body with long, slim legs 2.5 to 4 centimeters long.

Habitat: Under debris, rocks, and logs. In caves and dark places.

Distribution: North America.

Funnelweb spider
Atrax species (A. robustus, A. formidablis)

Description: Large, brown, bulky spiders. Aggressive when disturbed.

Habitat: Woods, jungles, and brushy areas. Web has a funnellike opening.

Distribution: Australia. (Other nonvenemous species worldwide.)

Theraphosidae and Lycosa species

Description: Very large, brown, black, reddish, hairy spiders. Large fangs inflict painful bite.

Habitat: Desert areas, tropics.

Distribution: Americas, southern Europe.

Widow spider
Latrodectus species

Description: Dark spiders with light red or orange markings on female's abdomen.

Habitat: Under logs, rocks, and debris. In shaded places.

Distribution: Varied species worldwide. Black widow in United States, red widow in Middle East, and brown widow in Australia.

Note: Females are the poisonous gender. Red Widow in the Middle East is the only spider known to be deadly to man.


Description: Multijoined body to 30 centimeters long. Dull orange to brown, with black point eyes at the base of the antenna. There are 2,800 species worldwide.

Habitat: Under bark and stones by day. Active at night.

Distribution: Worldwide.


Description: Insect with brown or black, hairy bodies. Generally found in colonies. Many buil wax combs.

Habitat: Hollow trees, caves, dwellings. Near water in desert areas.

Distribution: Worldwide.

Note: Bees have barbed stingers and die after stinging because their venom sac and internal organs are pulled out during the attack.

Wasps and hornets

Description: Generally smooth bodied, slender stinging insects. Many nest individually in mud nests or in paper nest colonies. Smooth stinger permits multiple attacks. There are several hundred species worldwide.

Habitat: May be found anywhere in various species.

Distribution: Worldwide.

Note: An exception to general appearance is the velvet ant of the southern United States. It is a flightless wasp with red and black alternating velvety bands.


Description: Round body from size of pinhead to 2.5 centimeters. Has 8 legs and sucking mouth parts. There are 850 species worldwide.

Habitat: Mainly in forests and grasslands. Also in urban areas and farmlands.

Distribution: Worldwide.