Bug FAQ

If you live in Florida, or visit here, you know that the Sunshine State is home to many bugs. Thousands of species of insects, spiders, mites and other creepy-crawly arthropods roam the state — some beneficial to people, some potentially harmful to people, some neither, some both.

You may have a few questions about Florida’s bugs. That’s why we’re here.

UF/IFAS entomology experts want to make sure you get the facts about Florida’s bugs, so we’re providing this FAQ backed by science-based answers.

If you have questions that aren’t addressed in the current version of the FAQ, let us know by writing to sfyl@ifas.ufl.edu. Many of the questions submitted will be featured on the UF/IFAS Facebook and Twitter pages during UF’s annual Bug Week celebration every May. And the online FAQ will continue to grow as new material arrives.

Bug Word of the Day: Central-Place Forager (4/6/2018) by rachelmallinger - Central-place foragers are animals that return to the same nest in between foraging trips, collecting their food, or food for their offspring, in an area around that nest. Animals that are not central-place foragers... Read More
Bug of the Day: Sweat Bee (4/6/2018) by rachelmallinger - If you are outside on a hot day working in the gardening, or taking a walk through a park, you might find a shiny bee resting on your sweaty skin. It is probably a... Read More
Bug Word of the Day: Proboscis (4/5/2018) by rachelmallinger - Elephants, mosquitoes, and butterflies share something in common – they have a proboscis! A proboscis is simply a long appendage coming out of an animal’s head, and is used to describe the nose or... Read More
Bug of the Day: Bella Moth (4/5/2018) by rachelmallinger - Not all moths are night creatures. In fact, one of the most colorful moths in Florida, the bella moth Utetheisa ornatrix, is active during the day when we can admire its beauty. The wings... Read More
Bug of the Day: Green Orchid Bee (4/4/2018) by rachelmallinger - The green orchid bee, Euglossa dilemma Friese, is a large, beautiful, metallic green bee named for its unique association with orchids and its distinctive color. While it can be found in the southern half of Florida,... Read More
Bug Word of the Day: Scopa (4/4/2018) by rachelmallinger - A scopa is a part of a bee’s body that is designed to hold and carry pollen. Bees must transport pollen from the flower, where it is collected, to the bee’s nest, where it... Read More
Bug of the Day: Hoverflies (4/3/2018) by rachelmallinger - Hoverflies, also known as flower flies or syrphid flies, are perhaps the most unrecognized and underappreciated pollinators. They are actually thought by some scientists to be the second most important group of pollinators after... Read More
Bug Word of the Day: Flower Constancy (4/3/2018) by rachelmallinger - Pollinators sometimes play favorites when choosing plants to forage on, a behavior known as flower constancy. This behavior can be seen across many different types of pollinators, but is perhaps best known in honey... Read More
Bug of the Day: The Common Eastern Bumble Bee (4/2/2018) by rachelmallinger - The common eastern bumble bee, Bombus impatiens, is one of the most frequently found bumble bees across the eastern half of North America. Their native range extends north-south from Ontario to Florida, and east-west... Read More
Bug Word of the Day: Mutualism (4/2/2018) by rachelmallinger - Pollination is one of the best examples of mutualism, a relationship between two different species in which both species benefit. Mutualisms are different from the many other relationships between organisms in which one or... Read More
Jeepers creepers what are all these creatures? See our new UF/IFAS Featured Creatures! (5/25/2017) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - It is that time of year when it seems that everywhere you look is an insect you have never seen before. To keep you in the know we have pulled together some of the... Read More
What is this bug? It is time to explore tiny but new UF/IFAS Featured Creatures! (5/23/2017) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Are you seeing fantastic creatures that are the stuff of nightmares (or an entomologists day dreams)? We all have had these moments and can often be surprised by how small some of these so... Read More
Zika and Florida Beekeepers (9/9/2016) by Mary Bammer - A letter from the Florida Chief of Apiary Inspection, David Westervelt: The Southeastern United States is in a triple threat situation for mosquito proliferation and control. Listed below are conditions making it favorable for... Read More
Giant wasp making you nervous? (8/26/2016) by Adam Dale - This is a guest post by Lauren Webb, a research assistant in the Dale Lab in the UF/IFAS Entomology & Nematology Department. Have you ever seen a wasp nearly the length of a large paperclip?... Read More
Why do I always find these silver bugs crawling inside of cardboard boxes? (5/27/2016) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - The silver critters that you find in boxes are called silverfish (Figure 1). They are a primitive type of insect that lack wings and are ametabolous (meaning they do not go through metamorphosis). Silverfish... Read More
What are these specks of dirt climbing up my walls? (5/26/2016) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - If you have ever seen what looks like clumps of dirt ascending your walls, you are actually seeing an insect. The “dirt” is actually a case that surrounds a household casebearer caterpillar (Figure 1),... Read More
I found some bed bugs in my house. Can I use bleach to kill bed bugs? (5/25/2016) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman -   When you have an infestation of bed bugs (Figure 1), bleach should not be used as a control method. Bleach can be harmful to people if not used carefully, and it will not... Read More
I have things that move in my birdbath. What are they? (5/24/2016) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Those little, squirming things in your birdbath are container-breeding mosquitoes (Figure 1). These mosquitoes are in their larval stage. Adult container-breeding mosquitoes lay eggs wherever water collects, which can be natural structures—like bromeliads—or artificial... Read More
I found worms with a spike for a tail on my tomatoes. What are they? (5/23/2016) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Between April and November, you might notice spike-tailed green worms (Figure 1) feasting on your tomato plants’ leaves and fruit. These voracious creatures ravaging your garden are caterpillars called tobacco or tomato hornworms. The... Read More
Do wasps have any benefits at all? (4/11/2016) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Actually, yes! They may not make honey like pollinating bees do, but we still need them. Even though you might tend to think of wasps as pesky stinging insects, they do provide ecological benefits.... Read More
I keep my house clean, so why am I still finding ants? (4/8/2016) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - It may feel as though ants, no matter what you seem to do, will never leave your house. There are several reasons why ants continue to find their way inside your home. Doing dishes... Read More
Fresh spring leaves: A delectable treat (3/31/2016) by Adam Dale - Throughout early spring, leaf buds on deciduous trees open up into fresh, green leaves. Our recently bare and bland landscapes are green again. We aren’t the only ones who are excited about this, though. Leaf-eating insects are too.... Read More
Welcome back! We STILL want to know what’s bugging you! (2/24/2016) by Tom Nordlie - Welcome to the new online habitat, er, home for the University of Florida’s Bug Week! The UF/IFAS Web Team has designed this terrific new website, where you’ll find information about all the Bug Week... Read More
What are these tents? (12/16/2015) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - You may have noticed branches covered in these strange structures (Figure 1) during the spring, typically in March. These are tents constructed by eastern tent caterpillars, the larval stage of a Lasiocampid moth—a hairy... Read More
Are ladybugs all ladies? (11/18/2015) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - The ladybug (Figure 1), or ladybird, is the common name given to beetles in the Coccinellidae family. This is misleading because not all ladybugs are ladies; they can be either female or male. It... Read More
What is this mosquito with white feet? (11/1/2015) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - We are pleased to announce a new article on Featured Creatures that will answer that question! Take a sneak peek with this excerpt from the article: Psorophora ferox, (Figure 1) known unofficially as the... Read More
Real zombies are among us! (10/26/2015) by cwmiller - It seems like science fiction, but insects can have their brains reprogrammed by fungi and even other insects! These zombies are common and may even be in your garden. We are mesmerized by the... Read More
Insects: A Delectable Wonder (10/15/2015) by cwmiller - Have you ever crave something crunchy, spicy, and savory? You are probably thinking of potato chips or chicken wings. You will be interested to know that there is another crunchy, spicy, and savory food... Read More
What are the big blue butterflies we see in butterfly exhibits? (10/10/2015) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - We have a new article on Featured Creatures that will answer that question! Take a sneak peek with this excerpt from the article: Morpho peleides Kollar, the blue morpho butterfly, also known as the peleides blue... Read More
How is this leaf walking? (9/19/2015) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - This leaf is not really a leaf at all. You are actually seeing an insect: a katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) (Figure 1). On closer inspection, what you may have referred to as a grasshopper is,... Read More
What are these little bugs in my house that look like they roll into a ball? (7/10/2015) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - The pillbug, Armadillidium vulgare (Latreille), is an isopod, a type of non-insect arthropod also known as a terrestrial crustacean. It is sometimes called a roly-poly due to its ability to roll into ball when... Read More
Why is this tree leaking? (6/12/2015) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - If you see sap coming out of a tree it could be caused by many different things. Damage to a tree trunk or limb can cause sap to leak out. This is natural wound... Read More
Is it true that there are brown recluse spiders in Florida? (5/20/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - That depends on your definition of ‘here.’  No breeding populations of any species of recluse spiders (Loxosceles laeta, Loxosceles reclusa, and Loxosceles rufescens have all been found in the state), has been found in any... Read More
I heard that UF was responsible for releasing the lovebug. Is that true? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - No, it’s not true. Not by a long shot. Not even close. NO! This rumor’s been around for decades and its origins are unknown. But we can tell you a few things to bust... Read More
What’s the best mosquito repellent to use? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Scientific studies have shown the mosquito-repelling effectiveness of the chemical N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, which is better known by the acronym DEET. Although people have reported good results with other options ranging from cosmetics to home remedies,... Read More
Why is my area so bug-infested? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - These are some common questions- Why are there so many bugs in Florida? Not species but individual bugs. Why is my area so bug-infested? Why are there sometimes so many bugs of a certain... Read More
Why are there so many species of bugs in Florida? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Florida is home to thousands of insect species, plus thousands more land-dwelling arthropods that aren’t classified as insects – organisms including spiders, mites, centipedes and ticks. Part of the reason we have so many... Read More
I think I’m having health problems related to bugs. (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - As much as we’d like to help, we’re not physicians and so it would be irresponsible for us to try to diagnose a medical problem. The best thing for you to do is discuss... Read More
Which bug is the biggest agricultural pest in Florida? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Right now it’s probably the Asian citrus psyllid, a small flying insect that’s the vector of the presumptive cause of citrus greening disease, the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. The disease cost Florida citrus growers... Read More
How do I know if I’m allergic to bee or wasp venom? I don’t think I’ve ever been stung. (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - You should talk to your primary care provider. There are tests available that can indicate potential bee and wasp venom allergies. In the meantime, if you’re not certain if you are allergic to bee... Read More
What’s the most dangerous bug in Florida? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - In the big scheme of things, it’s the mosquito. These blood-sucking pests don’t pose a danger by themselves, but their bites can transmit microscopic organisms that cause infectious diseases including Eastern equine encephalitis and... Read More
What are those little dark-colored flies that come out of my bathroom sink? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Is this what you are seeing? Those are representatives of a fly family called Psychodidae, commonly called drain flies, sink flies or moth flies. These insects are harmless, they don’t bite, sting or transmit... Read More
What’s the biggest bug in Florida? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - For greatest body length, we’re confident that the title holder is Scolopendra alternans, commonly called the Florida Keys giant centipede or Haitian giant centipede. A really big adult can be somewhere in the neighborhood... Read More
What’s the difference between an insect and a bug? (5/6/2014) by Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman - Let’s start with the easy part- defining what an insect is. An insect is a type of organism in a larger group called arthropods, which are cold-blooded creatures with an exoskeleton and no backbone.... Read More
Welcome to UF/IFAS What’s Bugging You FAQ’s (5/2/2014) by therron -  If you live in Florida, you already know that our state is a hotbed for bugs. And with thousands of insects, spiders, mites and other creepy-crawly critters wandering about, you may have a few... Read More