Pests and bugs are more than a nuisance — they can pose serious hazards to your home and family. Unfortunately Florida's mild, humid climate makes it a pest’s paradise
, especially in the central and southern regions of the state.
Here’s the buzz on 9 common Florida household pests and what you can do to keep ’em out of your home.
Florida is home to roughly 80 different types of mosquitoes, more than any other state. These pesky insects breed in any form of stagnant water, including ponds, marshes, floodwaters, storm drains, old tires, and even watering dishes for potted houseplants.
Guilty Of… Spreading diseases including West Nile virus, malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, encephalitis, and now Zika virus, which has become a growing concern for pregnant women over recent months. Not to mention bites that can itch for days.
Watch Out For…
- Buzzing noises, especially in the evening.
- Bite marks on people; reactions can range from mild irritation to inflammation and swelling.
- The presence of immature mosquitoes in standing water.
Palmetto Bugs (Roaches)
Palmetto bugs are an inevitable part of Florida life thanks to the state’s “tropical” weather. Anyone who lives in Florida has that one Palmetto bug horror story to share…
Guilty Of… Scaring the living daylights out of unsuspecting victims. These creepy crawlers often catch homeowners by surprise as they scurry across walls, and many Floridians have claimed to be “attacked” by a flying Palmetto bug. While Palmetto bugs are not really hazardous to humans, their bodily excretion may trigger allergic reactions.
Watch Out For…
- A distinct, musty smell.
- Chew marks on curtains, stamps, envelopes, and book bindings.
- Shed skins and droppings in cracks and crevices around your home.
Ants are social insects, and often live in colonies of thousands or even millions of individuals. Ants live a very busy but short life, with an average life expectancy of only 45-60 days.
Guilty Of… Damaging lawns and landscaping, contaminating food, and infesting food preparation areas and pet food bowls. Some ants are also known for biting and stinging people – most notorious in Florida are fire ants. They may be small, but ants certainly make up for their size in numbers.
Watch Out For…
- Ant hills around your yard.
- Company – if you spot one ant, you can be sure there are more hiding nearby.
- Long trails of ants moving around a food site and surrounding areas.
Termites are pesky wood-destroying insects. The most common species of damage-causing termites found in Florida are Drywood termites and Subterranean termites. There are also various termite species unique to Florida, including the Asian subterranean termite, the Nose termite, and the Florida Dampwood termite.
Guilty Of… Causing damage to structural and non-structural timbers of a home.
Watch Out For…
- Discolored or sagging sheetrock on ceilings or walls
- Buckling or sagging floors
- Termite holes in attic crossbeams or in wood paneling on walls
- Bubbling or peeling paint
- Wood that crumbles easily
- Jammed doors or windows
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
If you’ve ever driven on the highway during lovebug season, you know exactly what we mean when we say lovebugs are one of Florida’s most annoying pests.
Lovebug flights typically occur during a few weeks in May and September. Since lovebug pairs are weak fliers, they tend to stay near emergence sites when there is little or no wind, and are most abundant in moist, grassy habitats. They’re also attracted to methane gas, which is often simulated by car exhaust – so they tend to hang out on roadways. SPLAT!
Guilty Of… Ruining paint on cars, obstructing car windshields, gathering in corners of homes and leaving behind a foul smell.
Watch Out For… There are no precautionary signs to detect a lovebug infestation, other than spotting the pests themselves.
Fleas can infest household pets and other small animals. They can then cling onto shoes, pants, or blankets, which can transport them to new environments.
Guilty Of… Causing allergy dermatitis in pets, and their debris can cause similar allergic reactions in humans. Flea bites typically produce painful, itchy red bumps on the skin. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms, bacterial diseases, and even the rare bubonic plague.
Watch Out For…
- Pets frequently scratching or grooming themselves.
- Bite marks on people.
- “Flea dirt,” or adult flea feces, which consists of dried, digested blood and resembles course ground black pepper.
Millipedes thrive in dark, cool, and moist environments. They’re nocturnal and often slither around sidewalks, patios, and foundations at night. Millipedes tend to migrate into homes when the weather is excessively wet or dry.
Guilty Of… Secreting an irritating, foul-smelling fluid that can be toxic to small animals and pets, and can trigger allergic reactions in humans sensitive to insect toxins.
Watch Out For… There are no precautionary signs to detect a millipede infestation, other than finding the pests themselves.
Leapin’ lizards! We’ve all witnessed (or performed) at least one wild lizard chase around the house… These small, sly critters can easily sneak through vents, pipes, cracks around windows and doors, and other openings in your home.
Guilty Of… Carrying Salmonella, which can cause serious health problems in humans. Salmonella infection can spread through direct or indirect contact with lizards or their droppings.
Watch Out For… Black droppings with white tips on them.
Eek! A mouse … or even a rat! The common house mouse can be found throughout Florida, as are the two most common nuisance rat species found in homes, the Norway rat (also known as the brown rat) and the black rat. Mice generally avoid bright lights, while rats have poor eyesight but make up for it with other very developed senses, including ultrasonic hearing.
Guilty Of… Transmitting diseases to humans, and causing damage to a home’s electrical wires, insulation, roof, and water pipes.
Watch Out For… Mouse and rat droppings, often in attics, basements, and toolsheds.
Keep ‘Em Out!
Stop these pesky critters in their tracks… Here are 9 simple steps you can take to prevent pests from invading your home:
- Wipe down surfaces after meals and food preparation.
- Seal all holes and cracks in your home with caulk.
- Put leftovers in airtight containers and throw away old food.
- Replace any wood that is rotting or will rot soon.
- Keep your plants and shrubbery trimmed and away from the house.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and off the ground.
- Keep bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and crawl spaces cool and dry.
- Get rid of any standing water near the house.
- If you discover an infestation, call a pest control specialist immediately.