Its warm, humid climate makes Florida a cozy home for many types of critters—from the ones kids love to catch to ones that make the skin crawl.
“Bug Week” sponsored by the University of Florida’s entomology and nematology from May 19-23 wants to bring attention to the state’s vast insect population.
“South Florida has subtropical climate, so because we have a milder winter, more insects are able to survive,” said Bill Kern, a professor of entomology at the department who is based in Fort Lauderdale. “We have also have a lot of international trade, and have insects that are brought into the state and become established.”
This, he says, is how most pests have gotten in.
“South Florida is popular because once every couple months, we get a new major pest,” Kern said. “Part of that also has to do with the fact that many of our agricultural plants that we grow came from someplace else.”
As for the more desirable critters, Kern said most of the butterflies and dragonflies seen fluttering in the area are natives.
“We have some neat tropical butterflies that are here that aren’t anywhere else in the United States,” Kern said. The Ruddy Daggerwing, a bright orange insect named for the small tails at the end of its wings, is one such butterfly according to Kern.
Once summer arrives, residents should worry about a different kind of flying bug.
“We’re getting ready to come into the rainy seasons so we need to get ready for the Asian Tiger Mosquito, and then the other one is the Yellow Fever Mosquito,” Kern said. “These are artificial container mosquitoes, that gather anywhere that’s going to catch water in your yard.”
South Florida residents can participate in Bug Week by snapping photos of bugs they’ve spotted locally and using the hashtag #UFBugs to post on Twitter.
From noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, they can also use the hashtag #UFLunchBugs to ask questions about pests and other bugs.
Under the title “What’s Bugging You, Florida?,” the school’s researchers are hoping to assemble a “definitive go-to document of frequently asked questions about Florida bugs.”
“They’ll probably be asked to identify some insects [and] questions about typical household pests,” said Mickie Anderson, spokesman for the event. “They’re pretty well expecting the usual and the unusual.”
More information on Florida insects and Bug Week can be found at bugs.ufl.edu.
“They’re important, they’re interesting and they do all kinds of neat things,” Kern said.