Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Insects: Flying Insects
florida mosquitoMosquitoes- The word "mosquito" is Spanish for "little fly" and they belong to the order of Diptera – true flies. Mosquitoes are like flies in that they have two wings, but unlike flies, their wings have scales, their legs are long, and the females have a long mouth part for piercing skin. There are many species of mosquitoes that frequent your Florida outdoor activities, but all require water to breed. Mosquitoes carry diseases such as encephalitis, malaria,  and West Nile Virus, and cause heartworms in your dog.

Florida sand gnats or noseeumsNoseeums- Also known as "sand fleas," noseeums can make a morning or late afternoon at the beach unbearable, especially in the summer and early fall. Sand fleas are actually a gnat (Culicoides furens) that are sensitive to temperature and humidity. Noseeums are nearly invisible and Floridians spell it No-See-Ums! The noseeums bite or sting really isn't a bite or sting, instead it is the sensation you feel when the acid in their bodily fluid hits the skin. 

Florida honey beeBees-Bees are often confused with wasps. Although closely related, they differ in many ways. Bees feed pollen and nectar to their young. They are beneficial insects that pollinate fruits, vegetables and many other plants. The most common bees are the honey bee, bumble bee, and carpenter bee. Bees are not commonly serious problems and usually require no control. When stung by a honey bee, scrape the bee's stinger out of the wound immediately. Be careful not to pull it out. If you do, you will force poison into the wound. If the stinger is not removed, the poison gland attached to the stinger will continue to pump poison into the wound for several minutes. Wasps and other bees do not leave a stinger and are capable of stinging many times. At certain times of the year (spring and early summer), honey bee colonies divide by swarming. Swarms are not usually a problem unless they land in an inconvenient spot or enter a building.

Florida mud dauberMud Daubers- Mud daubers are solitary wasps. Each female constructs a clump of mud cells. There is no worker caste. In the spring, young adults come out of their nests and mate. The female then build mud-cell nests. After she completes the nest she captures about 20 spiders, paralyzing each with her sting as she catches it. Spiders are stored in the cell and she lays an egg on one of the spiders and caps the cell with clay. This is repeated until she has built one nest containing 6 to 20 cells. She may then build other nests in other locations. Once a nest is finished, she leaves it and never returns. The larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on the paralyzed spiders. Complete development takes place in the cell. One to three generations can develop in a year. When a wasp stings it injects a venomous fluid under the skin. The venom causes a painful swelling that may last several days. In some cases a wasp sting may cause severe illness or even death.

Florida ladybugLadybugs- Ladybugs (also called lady birds and lady beetles) are small, oval-shaped winged insects. These shiny insects are usually red with black spots or black with red spots on the wing covers. The number of spots identifies the type of ladybug. Most ladybugs are less than 1/4 inch (4-8 mm) long. As ladybugs age, the color of the spots fade. Birds are the major predator of the ladybug. Ladybugs will play dead when threatened. These tiny predators are usually very welcome in gardens because ladybug larvae and adults eat aphids, mealybugs, and mites (which are garden pests). Ladybug larvae can eat about 25 aphids a day; adults can eat over 50.

common green dragonflyDragonfly- The order Odonata contains the dragonflies and damselflies and is one of the most popular insect groups. There are six families of dragonflies found in Florida, each of which is easily identifiable. Dragonflies haven't changed much over the last 300 million years. Today they are one of the most easily recognized of all insects. The common green darner is the largest, most abundant and widespread dragonfly species in North America. Common green darners are called "mosquito hawks" because they eat mosquitoes, providing an important service to humans. These dragonflies are commonly found around ponds and open bodies of fresh water and large blacktop parking lots. When fully grown, green darners are about 3 inches  long and have a wingspan of 4.5 inches. They have a green head and thorax. The abdomen is yellow and brown on females; long, slender and bluish on males. Common Green Darners have large compound eyes, strong jaws, and spiny legs. Their wings are clear with a yellowish tint toward the tips and are strongly veined with net-like pattern.

Florida palmetto bugFlying Palmetto Bug- Palmetto bugs are reddish brown and grow up to two inches in length. It is also known as the American cockroach. It has a pair of large wings on its back that can be used for flying, but wings that are tough enough to act like a shield when the cockroach is on the ground. Palmetto bugs need moisture to survive and only live in warm, tropical climates. It can be found outdoors across the southern United States. The Palmetto bug is omnivorous, and will eat almost anything. It prefers sweets and has been observed eating paper, boots, hair, bread, fruit, and other dead insects. Palmetto bugs can travel quickly, often darting out of sight when someone enters a room, and they can fit into small cracks and under doors despite its fairly large size. It is considered one of the fastest running insects.
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