Which Florida Insects Can Hurt You?
We have a lot of insects in Florida. We have a lot of everything; you name it – Birds, fish, reptiles, and the list goes on and on. After working in so many lawns and gardens, we can tell you that bugs have to be the biggest problems by far. Poison control centers get hundreds of calls annually about insect stings, bites, and encounters of all sorts. These encounters can be extremely uncomfortable, but very few are life-threatening in any way. However, it is worth going over which critters in Florida are venomous or otherwise harmful. Here are six of them. If desired, you can find larger lists online at various organizations.
This section will cover varied species that are more likely to ‘swarm’ you.
Everyone knows that mosquitoes carry dangerous diseases and that they appear in droves. Mosquitoes are attracted to two things: Heat and carbon dioxide. Our bodies are often warmer than the outside air when we’re outdoors, except on the hottest days. Mosquitoes can also sense the air you exhale and make a beeline for you in droves.
Midges are tiny insects that can be nearly invisible, and that also hunt you down the way mosquitoes do. Also called no-see-ums, biting midges don’t ever stop at just one bite. The first midge to bite you will release pheromones, ringing the dinner bell and calling over all of its hungry friends. You’ll feel a burning sensation and develop a small red welt at the site of the bite, and with dozens of bites, it can be a nightmare. Unlike mosquitoes, these tiny beasts don’t transmit diseases, at least… But scratching the bites can lead to widespread infection.
Fire ants are another big worry. These hardy creatures are very aggressive and defend their nests with powerful bites and stings. There have been deaths recorded from being swarmed by fire ants, which leave painful stings that become white pustules and cause lasting discomfort. Fire ant venom also seems to cause allergic sensitivity in people who receive a large number of stings. Anaphylaxis is common, but can fire ants kill you? In extremely rare cases, yes – Usually due to an allergic response to hundreds of stings.
This section will cover varied species that are more solitary, and in general are easier to deal with.
Like most places in the USA, Florida is home to several species of tick. Lone star ticks, gulf coast ticks, American dog ticks, and black-legged ticks are the ones you should be most concerned with. Lone-star ticks are the most common human ticks in Florida and can transmit rash diseases and the bacterial disease ehrlichiosis. American dog ticks are usually found on dogs but can move to people, carry Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, or even paralyze your dog or child if they bite near the base of the skull or spine. Black-legged or deer ticks transmit Lyme disease, and gulf coat ticks carry a less extreme version of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
These bright yellow flies with orange wings and rainbow eyes are a species of horsefly. The females bite and aggressively pursue humans and other large animals. As horseflies, they use their scissor-like mouthparts to cut a hole in your skin and drink the blood you bleed. Though they don’t carry diseases, this wound can lead to a secondary staph infection.
Most Florida spiders can do no more harm than a bee sting, but can a black widow kill you? Maybe – Widow spiders have extremely painful bites with several side effects, like nausea, cramps, and swelling. But rarely lead to deaths. You should, however, seek medical attention immediately following any widow spider bite as they are serious bites. Recluse spiders can also potentially deliver a painful bite, but most recluse sightings are misidentifications.
If you have a problem with biting insects on your property, call today for a consultation about what can be done to reduce your pest problem.