And now for something completely different; this week I thought I would feature a handy-dandy desk (or lap, or palm, depending on where you are reading this right now) reference for some common and random “how do I tell the difference between a ____ and ____?” questions. Ready? Here we go!
Cricket vs. Grasshopper
A grasshopper has short, stubby antennae; a cricket has long antennae, usually as long as or longer than its body. (A katydid is actually a cricket! In other parts of the world it is referred to as a “bush cricket”)
Frog vs. Toad
A frog has wet, smooth skin; a toad has bumpy and usually dry skin.
Legless lizard vs. Snake
Legless lizards have eyelids; snakes do not—so if it blinks at you, it’s a lizard!
Venomous vs. Poisonous
In order to get sick from something that is venomous, it has to be injected into you via hairs, spines, fangs, etc; to get sick from something that is poisonous, you have to touch or ingest it. This means that there are no poisonous snakes, but there are both poisonous and venomous caterpillars!
Bug vs. Insect
All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs—true bugs are a group of insects that can usually be identified by a triangle-shape on its thorax (between the head and wings).
Spider vs. Daddy-long-legs
Spiders have two body parts and can produce silk; daddy-long-legs have one body part and cannot spin silk. Daddy-long-legs are arachnids (along with ticks, scorpions, and mites), but are not spiders.
Dragonfly vs. Damselfly
When at rest, dragonflies hold their wings flat; damselflies hold their wings folded up.
Northern mockingbird vs. Brown thrasher song
A northern mockingbird will sing his array of songs at random; a brown thrasher sings each of his phrases twice.
Moth vs. Butterfly
Moths are typically nocturnal (active at night) and when at rest, hold their wings flat; butterflies are diurnal (active during the day) and when at rest, typically hold their wings up.
Millipede vs. Centipede
Millipedes have 4 legs per body segment; centipedes have 2 legs per body segment. (And contrary to what their names would suggest, centipedes can have between 20 to 300 legs; and millipedes have between 36 and 400 legs, with the most ever counted being 750)
And there you have it—now go and use your new found geeky powers! (But only for good of course.)