Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Insects: Florida Beetles
Beetles are common insects with a shell like exterior. They differ from all other winged insects by having the first pair of wings hardened and thickened. These hard forewings serve as a protective shield for the fragile flying wings. Be sure and check out our video showing a dung beetle hard at work

southern pine beetleSouthern Pine Beetle
- The Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) is one of five common species of pine bark beetles that occur throughout the Southeastern United States. Pine bark beetles utilize stressed, dying, or recently-dead pines as hosts. All species tunnel, reproduce, and feed in the inner bark or phloem (located between the outer bark and the wood); this activity disables the transport of sugars through the tree. Adults are 2 to 4 mm in length, short-legged, cylindrical and brown to black in color. The broad and prominent head has a distinct notch or frontal groove on male beetles. The rear end or abdomen of adults is rounded. New adults progressively change in color from yellowish-white to yellowish-brown to reddish-brown to finally become dark brown. The southern pine beetle is the most destructive insect pest of pine in the southern United States.

green tiger beetleTiger Beetles- As their name implies, Tiger Beetles are active, agile insects, quick to take flight, possessing good vision, and in many cases, having colorful patterns which are quite attractive. Tiger beetles are predators, feeding on insects they are able to capture with their mandibles. It is common to collect adult beetles with ant heads still attached to a variety of appendages! Rather than specializing on certain species for prey, adults are opportunistic feeders. Adult tiger beetles are about 1/2- inch long and have long antennae and legs. They differ from ground beetles in that the head is wider than the thorax. Common species are grayish brown to black with white spots and markings on the wing covers. Some species have metallic or iridescent blue, green and bronze coloration. Adults of species are identified by distinguishing characters that include presence of hairs on the face of the head as well as the pattern and texture of the wing covers. Tiger beetles are closely related to ground beetles.

giant waterbugGiant Waterbug- The Giant Water Bug is one of the largest insects in the U.S. and Canada. Giant water bugs average1.5 inches in length, but some species grow as long as 4 inches. Giant Water Bugs like slowly moving water, especially where there is emergent vegetation such as cattails. They usually grab hold of a plant near the surface, and stick their short breathing tube out of the water to allow them to breath while waiting for prey. With their powerful front legs they are able to grab other bugs and prey as big as small fish, frogs and salamanders. Giant Waterbugs pierce their prey with their sharp beak and secrete enzymes that dissolve the body tissues, thus allowing them to suck up the resulting liquid. Giant Water bugs are also called Toe-Biters because if handled aggressively they can deliver a painful bite.

weevil bugWeevils- A weevil is any beetle from the Curculionoidea super family. They are usually small, less than  inch, and herbivorous. The rice weevil and granary weevil are pests of stored grain and seeds. They develop inside whole grain kernels as small, white, wrinkled, grub-like larvae. There is generally no external evidence that the larvae have been eating and growing inside the seed until after about one month when the adult weevil chews through the seed coat and emerges. The adult weevils are 1/8th inch long and have slender, hard-shelled bodies that appear pitted or scarred with tiny holes. They are brown to reddish brown in color. The rice weevil has four faint yellowish spots on the back of the abdomen. The granary weevil is uniformly colored with no spots.  

whirligig beetleWhirligig Beetle- The Whirligig beetle is greenish-black and flattened in shape. It possesses long forelegs and very short mid and hind legs. The Whirligig beetle seems to have four eyes, two above the water and two below the water, but it really has two eyes that are split in half. This beetle is found Swimming in groups on surface of quiet backwaters. This beetle zips in wild patterns all around the surface of quiet water. When disturbed it dives to the bottom. The whirligig beetle also protects itself by giving off a strong smell like apple seeds. This beetle is a scavenger, which means it eats dead plants and animals. Though it prefers swimming, it can fly to a new home if the old one dries up. This beetle is harmless, so don't be afraid the next time you are around it.

Metallic Woodboring BeetleMetallic Woodboring Beetle - Metallic wood-borers are so called because adults of many species have a metallic luster, giving them a shiny appearance while at rest. The name wood-borer refers to the larval stage. Larvae bore under bark or deeper into heartwood of a variety of tree species. The term "flat-headed wood-borers" is also used with these beetles, and refers to the dorsally flattened appearance of the larvae. Adults are quite active and quick to take flight when disturbed. Activity generally occurs during the hottest part of the day, and individuals may be seen sunning on logs or stumps. Many species also occur on plants, and may be collected by beating foliage.
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