Spiders and Other Insects in North America

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Course Description

Welcome to this course on Insects and Spiders of North America. No doubt about it, you either love them or hate them. This course is not meant to make you squeamish, uncomfortable, or to cure you of your fears, but to offer important details and information regarding common spiders and insects found in your geographical region.

Knowing about spiders and insects can help protect yourself and your children against bites and stings that may cause anything from discomfort to a medical emergency. Throughout the course, we'll offer some interesting facts about insects and spiders and answer common questions that many people may have about them in general.

We'll identify venomous spiders and insects in North America, and offer a general breakdown of the most commonly sighted insects and spiders in all regions of the US - the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, the Great Plains, the Northeast and the Southeast. We'll tell you what these spiders and insects look like, where they like to hang out, and what to watch out for. We'll conclude this course with information on first aid for mild insect and spider bites, as well as what to do in more alarming situations, such as when someone has an allergic reaction. Even if you're squeamish, it's important to know more about these tiny creatures that often inhabit the same spaces as you do.


The truth is, when it comes to insects and spiders, you either love them or hate them. Some of us are extremely squeamish, while others take them in stride. Some people love insects and spiders, while others "freak out" when they see one, regardless of what it looks like, its size, or its purpose in the cycle of life. 

Regardless of how you feel about insects and spiders, knowledge is power. Knowing details about certain insects and spiders can help people deal with them, teach their children about them, and, when necessary, take precautions around them.

During this course, we'll offer a variety of information and interesting facts about insects and spiders. We'll identify common insects that bite, as well as venomous spiders found in different regions of the country. Then, we'll offer methods to help you overcome your fears, and follow that up with some basic first aid for mild and severe insect and spider bites. 

Love 'em or Hate 'em

There doesn't seem to be much middle ground when it comes to insects and spiders. Some people are afraid of bees and wasps, while others don't even blink at their presence. Some of us are more afraid of fuzzy spiders  than "bald" spiders. Some of us are afraid of tarantulas, while others find it amusing to let them crawl on us.

Some of us are afraid of insects that can fly, from moths, grasshoppers, and locusts, on down to flies. For some, such fears are perfectly rational, and if you happen to be one of those who grow squeamish around any type of insect or spider, you'll know it's not at all funny (even though other people may laugh at your responses).

Sometimes however, our squeamishness or fear of insects or spiders, regardless of their size, can cause extreme anxiety, fear, and outright panic.This intense, guttural reaction to these creatures may result in harm to you or a loved one. For this reason, we'll address methods of dealing with these extreme phobias. It is not the purpose of this course to attempt to cure you of such fears, but to let you know methods are available to help you deal with your fears and anxieties in a safe manner.

If you're a parent, it's a good idea to understand and research insects and spiders in your area to protect yourself, your children, and even your pets against bites and stings. Knowing the type of insects and spiders common to your geographical region will teach you about their habitats, habits, movements, and what to expect if you find yourself in the vicinity of one.

If you happen to love insects and spiders, good for you! If you happen to hate them, we understand. This course is not meant to push you in one direction or another, but merely to impart basic knowledge regarding the most common insects and spiders found throughout North America.

Whether you're afraid of spiders and insects or you happen to collect them, we hope this course will offer you some interesting facts and tidbits regarding the most common creepy crawlers and flying insects in the United States. For those of us who might be a little squeamish, realize the content in this course is not meant to gross you out, give you goose bumps, or make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, but to inform. 

Despite their size (or lack thereof), it's important to understand that every insect and spider has a purpose. Some insects and spiders eat smaller insects and spiders. While we don't necessarily want them in our house, you will find insects and spiders in your yard and in your neighborhood.

It's impossible to eradicate all insects and spiders, and you really wouldn't want to. Each of them has a purpose in maintaining the ecological balance of your environment. Increasing use of insect sprays and insecticides has affected how we grow our fruits, vegetables, and even meat products. The use of such sprays in the home environment may also affect you and your family, and especially children. While we're not telling you not to use insecticides or pesticides in your home (because sometimes they're drastically needed), we will briefly discuss their use in your home.

Now might be a good time to differentiate between bugs and insects. Many of us use these terms interchangeably, but we really shouldn't. Insects are members of the class Insecta, which incorporates more than a million species! Bugs are a part of the Insecta class, but are classified as members of the order Hemiptera, and suborder Heteroptera.

There are over 30 distinct orders of insects, and we can't possibly cover them all in this course. Therefore, we're going to limit our introduction to only the most common insects and spiders in each region of the United States.

We encourage our students to continue their research on their own. It's rather difficult to read about any type of insect or spider without seeing pictures of them. If you need to, hold an index card or piece of paper in your hand to quickly cover photos that may bother you, while at the same time enabling you to read and understand insect and spider development and behavior.

For those of you who are not afraid of spiders and insects, this method to learning may seem silly, but remember, most of us are afraid or anxious about something.It's easy to scoff or make fun of someone who reacts violently to the sight of a teensy, tiny, spider or insect, but those very same people are often capable of dealing with other creatures or animals without blinking an eye.

Just for the Squeamish - Dangers of 'Freaking Out'
We understand that the sight of an insect or spider may cause some individuals to become extremely anxious. However, we wish to stress that it's important for individuals to attempt to remain as calm as possible if you're startled by any type of insect or spider.

Here's an example of why doing so is extremely important. Every spring, along the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, a moth migration takes place. Now, many people may not mind moths at all. After all, once in awhile, they flitter around your outside lights, and sometimes even get inside the house. Some people leave them alone to die, while others head quickly for the nearest fly swatter.

Some years, the moth migration in Colorado is worse than others. Hundreds, even thousands of them, may be attracted to certain houses, yards, or street intersections. Recently, a Colorado news article related the tale of a young 19-year-old girl who was suddenly distracted by several moths that flew into her car while she was driving. She panicked. Whether she was truly afraid of moths or merely distracted by trying to swat them or get them out of the car, she lost control and ran off the road. Her car hit a tree. Several bystanders happened to see the accident and rushed to her aid, pulling her out of the car just before it exploded into flames.

It would've been very sad indeed to read the article if she had not happened to get out in time. She might have died because she reacted poorly to the presence of moths in her car. It would seem rather silly to die for such a reason, wouldn't it? However, you'd be amazed at how often such reactions or phobias to insects, spiders, snakes, dogs, or other objects (living or inanimate) can evoke such irrational instincts in people. Every year, people are killed in incidents caused by falls, accidents, or even running into a street without looking - all because of an intense reaction to the sight of something that scares us.

It's important for all of us to understand and remember our surroundings. It's important for parents to address such issues with their children. If you're a parent and have a child (regardless of age) who is terrified of insects or spiders (or something else), it's your responsibility to teach your child how to react and respond safely and appropriately when startled. Doing so can save them from injury.

Knowledge Is Power

Arming yourself with information about insects and spiders can help you deal with them. Such knowledge also enables you to pass information to your children. You don't have to like insects or spiders to do this. You can be incredibly squeamish, but at the same time realize the importance of educating yourself and your children regarding the insects and spiders found in your region. 

Again, we're not telling you that you don't have to be afraid of them, if that's your nature. However, what we are telling you is that through knowledge, you may empower yourself to better deal with such circumstances.

Of course, understanding and looking at how a moth, or a grasshopper, a tarantula, or black widow spider is formed will not necessarily give you the ability to immediately deal with them, but it will help you understand how they function and behave.

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Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(382 votes)

Lesson 1: Insects and Spiders, Oh My!

Welcome to our course on insects and spiders of North America. 11 Total Points
  • Take Poll: Spiders and Insects
  • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 1: Insects and Spiders, Oh My!

Lesson 2: Entomophobia - Dealing With Your Insect Phobias

Just because you're afraid of insects and spiders doesn't mean you have a phobia. 10 Total Points
  • Review Article: Arachnophobia
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 2: Entomophobia - dealing with your insect phobias

Lesson 3: Interesting Facts About Insects and Spiders

Even if you hate spiders and insects, it's important to know something about them. 9 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: The Weirdest Insects; 10 Cool Facts about Tarantulas
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 3: Interesting Facts about Insects and Spiders

Lesson 4: Insects With Fangs

A number of myths persist regarding insects with "fangs." Of course, taking a magnified view of many insects does reveal what looks to be fangs on the jaws of many insect species. 10 Total Points
  • Review Article: Scorpions
  • Take Poll: Spider Bites
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 4: Insects with Fangs

Lesson 5: Venomous Spiders in North America

There are many different types of spiders, far too many to list and describe in the contents of this course. 10 Total Points
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 5: Venomous Spiders in North America

Lesson 6: Spiders and Insects of the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest encompasses states in the upper northwest region of the United States. 10 Total Points
  • Review Article: Clover Mites
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 6: The Pacific Northwest

Lesson 7: Spiders and Insects of the Southwest

The great American Southwest is one of the most beautiful regions in the United States, if you like desert. 9 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Arizona Brown Spider; Desert Centipede
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 7: The Southwest

Lesson 8: Spiders and Insects of the Great Plains States

The Great Plains states of America encompassed tens of thousands of square miles of open prairie. 10 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Yellow Sac Spiders; Cicada
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 8: The Great Plains States

Lesson 9: Spiders and Insects of the Northeast

The northeastern portion of the United States is known for its mountains and its beauty, especially in the fall when leaves of native trees turn multitudes of brilliant colors. 9 Total Points
  • Review Article: Cellar Spiders
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 9: The Northeast

Lesson 10: Spiders and Insects of the Southeast

The American Southeast is one of the most interesting regions in the country. 8 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Jumping Spiders; Spiny Orb Weaver
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 10: The Southeast

Lesson 11: Overcoming Your Fears

It's not easy to overcome the fear of anything, regardless of what it is. Big or small, insects and spiders terrify a lot of people. 10 Total Points
  • Review Article: Children's Fear
  • Take Poll: Fear
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 11: Overcoming your Fears

Lesson 12: First Aid for Spider and Insect Bites

While nearly all spiders are poisonous in some form, the fangs of most of the species are too short and fragile to fully penetrate human skin. 66 Total Points
  • Review Article: First Aid for Spider Bites
  • Take Poll: What is your opinion of this course?
  • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 12: First Aid for Spider and Insect Bites
  • Complete: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Determine the similarities and differences of spiders and insects.
  • Define entomophobia - dealing with your insect phobias.
  • Recognize insects with fangs.
  • Recognize venomous spiders in North America.
  • Identify spiders and insects of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Identify spiders and insects of the Southwest.
  • Identify spiders and insects of the Great Plains States.
  • Describe spiders and insects of the Northeast.
  • Identify spiders and insects of the Southeast.
  • Summarize first aid techniques and protocols for spider and insect bites, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
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Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Spiders and Other Insects in North America
Course Number: 8900132
Course Requirements: View Course Requirements
Lessons Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars (382 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: General Education (Self-Paced, Online Class)
CEU Value: 0.5 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Cathleen Chouinard
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $50.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $75.00

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