This web page will be a research guide to the myriad of insects that inhabit Florida.
Humans and insects have long been at war here in Florida. Insects invade our homes, damage and destroy our structures, contaminate our food and crops, sting and bite us and, in some cases, even kill us. We try to eliminate them with sprays that destroy the beneficial insects along with the harmful and which may have long-term effects on the environment.
My first step in this research project was to catalog the most common Florida insects. Starting from this list, I will be adding information as to their habitat, identify whether or not they are native to Florida, and whether they are harmful or beneficial to the environment.
Some Interesting Facts About Florida's Insects
There are so many insects in Florida that it is impossible to catalog them all. So far about 500 species of insects are found only in Florida. One of the reasons that so many insects inhabit the state is the biological diversity of the landscape and another is the mild winter climate. Also the land of Florida is very old and has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Some of the swamps and forests are so old that they are home to insects that are not even found in other parts of the state. New species of insects are being discovered almost every day. Any natural area in the state contains undescribed species. These insects are not new in the sense that they have only just evolved, but rather because they have yet to be described. However, in order to determine the species that have not yet been described, an in-depth knowledge of those that have been described is necessary.
Since 1986 over 150 new insect species have arrived in Florida and made the state their home. The Mediterranean and Oriental Fruit Flies are not counted in these statistics as they had been considered eradicated. However, both have reappeared recently, and the Oriental Fruit Fly is now under seige in Sarasota County.
Florida currently has one species of insect on the endangered list: the Schaus Swallowtail. Previously seen all over the state, it can only be found now in certain areas of the Keyes. Although not yet endangered, the fascinating and magical firefly has become increasingly scarce. The reasons for this are not known for certain, but fireflies require a very specific habitat and those habitats are disappearing. Also the insecticides that have been sprayed to eliminate the insect pests have surely been responsible for killing fireflies as well.
The single most unpleasant insect in Florida is the fire ant. The fire ant is not native to Florida. It arrived in the state from South America in the mid 1940s. Massive doses of DDT were sprayed in what was considered a foolproof way to get rid of this pest. Instead, this massive spraying succeeded only in eliminating most of the native ants that were natural enemies of the fire ant. The evil fire ant survived and has become a permanent unwelcome guest in Florida.
The "palmetto bug" is actually just a large cockroach, and can be either of the American or Australian species. They don't live in palmetto trees and the name of palmetto bug seems to have been only an attempt to make these sometimes enormous cockroaches a bit more socially acceptable. Although unpleasant, the palmetto bug doesn't bite, which makes it a little less unpleasant than the fire ant and the waterbug.
The most Common Florida Insects
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