Identify Poisonous Plants and Bugs

When you are wandering in the great outdoors, be sure you know which plants and bugs are safe, and which can be deadly poisonous.

| April 2018

  • Knowing which plants re poisonous can be extremely helpful in case of an emergency.
    Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books
  • “Handy Dad in the Great Outdoors” by Todd Davis has more than 30 projects to keep the kids in the great outdoors all summer long.
    Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books

Handy Dad in the Great Outdoors (Chronicle Books, 2012) by Todd Davis is full of fun projects for dad and the kids to get creative in the great outdoors. Davis grew up with a family who loved experiencing the outdoors, and is now passing on these fun activities to families across the world, with step-by-step instructions to make the most of your family time outside. The following excerpt is his guide to identifying edible and poisonous plants and bugs.

The great outdoors is teeming with edible plants and bugs. Whether you’re in an emergency situation or just interested in adding some wild plants and bugs to your camp stew, there’s power and satisfaction in knowing which ones will sustain you and which will do you in.

You’d be surprised at how many insect species are edible—about 1,500! That’s more than enough for dinner. Insects are protein-rich, packed with vitamins and minerals, and many of them are downright tasty. You can eat them raw, but washing and cooking them will improve the taste and also kill off any parasites that hard-shelled insects can carry. The easiest and tastiest way to cook them is to sauté them in oil over high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

One warning: Eating from the wild can be a thrill, but misidentifying a poisonous plant or bug can wreak havoc on your body or even kill you. Study well, choose wisely, and only eat specimens if you’re 100 percent sure they’re safe.

Avoid eating bugs from urban areas. Their bodies can hold concentrated pesticides at dangerous levels. When in the wild, stay away from bugs that have a strong odor or bright color, and also ones associated with spreading disease, such as ticks, mosquitoes, and flies.

Difficulty level: Backwoodsman (Challenging)

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