Don't let these critters bug you on the trail

Nov 11, 2009, 19:47 PM by User Not Found

For The Orange County Register

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third part in a series on hiking in Orange County.

The bugs that can be found on OC trails might also live in your back yard. Here are local insects to watch for and how to avoid them.


You are about as likely to be bitten by a spider while hiking in Southern California as you are of meeting Spiderman on the trail.

All spiders have fangs, and all spiders have venom, but spiders seldom bite unless provoked and few are poisonous. Also, the reaction to a nonpoisonous spider bite can vary significantly from person to person.

Black Widows/Brown Widows - have a painful bite that is rare, but highly poisonous. Black/brown widows can be found under things such as rocks or deteriorating logs, but are almost never seen on the trail.

Brown Recluse - doesn't exist in California according to expert Rick Vetter of University of California Riverside. For more on spider myth go to:



The European honey bee and killer bees are both common in Orange County and can be found in back yards or on the trail. It is difficult to tell the bees apart, so treat all bees with respect to be safe.

European Honey Bees - The most commonly used bee in So Cal agriculture is the Italian honey bee. This bee is docile and nests high in shrubs trees, and roofs. They will sting only if provoked and may chase for 5 to 10 minutes.

Killer Bees - They were interbred with Italian bees and the South African honey bee in hopes of creating a mild-mannered, but highly active pollinator. The breeding failed and the bad tempers persisted. The media dubbed this crossbreed - killer bees, and they are hyper sensitive. Do not swat or disturb them in any way.

When crossing a field be careful not to knock a bee off its flower as it pollinates. If you see a bee hive or swarm in the wild, stay at least 50 to 100 feet away. They also hate the vibration of machines like lawn mowers, weed whackers and even car engines. If you aggravate them in any way, they may pursue you for up to 45 minutes.

Nests are found low on the ground in drainage ditches or under rocks. If these bees chase, the only solution is to run and remember that they have a hard time navigating obstacles. They can be escaped by creating navigational confusion by running around trees, or through brush or buildings.

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