5 Wives’ Tales About Illinois Wildlife That You’re Probably Wrong About
There are a lot of things that we "learn" while growing up that we eventually find out are actually wrong.
How many of us were told that cracking our knuckles would cause arthritis later in life? I was very sure that was an absolute fact until about 5 years ago when I saw this video.
Sure enough, that was all an old wives' tale. Crack away with impunity, it'll just be the ravages of Father Time wearing away at your joints.
A lot of the lessons we "learned" early in life apply to things we might encounter outdoors while living here in Illinois. Some of these, like the knuckle cracking, are just wrong. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources made a list of 5 "facts" we know about Illinois wildlife that are just not accurate.
1. Daddy longlegs are the most venomous spiders on earth. But, luckily, their mouthparts are too small to bite people.
This is one that I absolutely believed and there is a lot wrong with it. First of all, daddy longlegs aren't even spiders. They do have 8 legs which makes them arachnids but they are missing the two body segments needed to be classified as spiders.
Second. They have no venom. Or fangs. They only have small claw like features they use to feed on dead insects. You still shouldn't be scared of them, but just not for the reasons you might think.
2. Touching a toad will give you warts.
This is one that I think most of us would debunk ourselves with a little thought, but the cultural tie between toads and warts is strong.
The truth is that warts are a uniquely human thing caused by the Human Pappilloma Virus family. Toads are not a carrier of this virus. It likely was started just by the bumpy appearance of a toad's skin.
Toads aren't completely harmless though. Some do secrete a milky poison when threatened. It will not do serious harm to you and will not affect your skin, but it can irritate membranes around the nose, mouth, and eyes.
You should still refrain from kissing them.
3. If you touch a butterfly's wings and it loses some scales, it will die.
This is another one that I absolutely believed and even remember when it was told to me by my 3rd grade teacher. I've never even thought about touching a butterfly in the past because I didn't want to kill it.
It turns out there is a LITTLE bit of truth to this wives' tale. You can remove some scales from a butterfly's wings if you touch it but it will not die. It's actually a defense mechanism for the butterfly. It allows it to escape predators more easily. You can ruin some camouflage for the butterfly or make it less appealing to mates, but considering that a butterfly can fly with only partially function wings, you're not going to kill it by picking it up.
4. The holes in the ground along a stream or lake bank are "snake holes."
This one is a half truth.
While you might find a snake in one of the holes you see by a lake or river, it probably wasn't created by a snake.
Snakes cannot "dig" a hole. They don't have the proper equipment. There are some burrowing snakes, but they don't leave a tell-tale hold behind them.
My advice is to not test this theory, best case scenario is that you don't find any snakes. The worst case is you find one, or even the crawdad that most likely dug the hole in the first place.
5. If you touch a molted bird feather, you'll get lice.
Hand up. I've never heard of this one and can't even find a related Youtube video about it.
This one's easy to debunk though. Bird's have their own type of lice and human's have their own type of lice. Human lice want nothing to do with birds, and bird lice want nothing to do with humans.
A molted bird feather might have some bird lice on it but if it gets on you, it's no worse than a gnat landing on your shoulder.
How many of these did you believe? Are there any other's the Illinois DNR missed?
PICTURES: See Inside 'Yellowstone' Actor Barret Swatek's $100 Million Malibu Estate
86 Stunning Photos of the Largest Home For Sale Illinois