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 threatened or bothered. This defense behavior makes it look round like a pill, which is why it is sometimes known as a pillbug. The common name woodlice is a term used for both pillbugs and sowbugs in Europe. The name woodlice gives reference to where they can be found, such as under logs. These nocturnal creatures are mainly beneficial in the garden or landscape, but can become pests if they wander indoors.

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Figure 1. Pillbug, Armadillidium vulgare (Latreille), adult and immatures. Photograph by Lyle Buss, University of Florida.

 

The pillbug is often mistakenly referred to as a sowbug, which is the common name used for other species of woodlice in the genera Oniscus and Porcellio. Both sowbugs and pillbugs are isopods, but they differ in that a pillbug can roll into a ball and a sowbug cannot. Sowbugs are more flattened and have a uropod (last segment of the abdomen) with exopods (lateral tail-like appendages that extend out beyond the pleotelson-the last segment), which makes rolling difficult.

Learn more in this full article on Featured Creatures!

 

Authors: Julie A. Franklin, Morgan A. Byron, and Jennifer Gillett-Kaufma

Why is this tree leaking?

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 protection for the tree. The sap comes out and covers up a wound to prevent plant pathogens and insects from getting in the tree. However, when you have multiple wounds on a tree (like in figure 1) you most likely have several insects that are boring into (or out of) your tree. Some trees can survive having a few insects damaging their trunks and bark so your tree is not always doomed.

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Figure 1. Pitch tubes of the black turpentine beetle, Dendroctonus terebrans (Olivier), occur on the lower trunk and may be as large as a half dollar. Photograph by Wayne Dixon, FDACS-DPI, www.forestryimages.org.

If you would like to determine what is causing the problem you can search for the name of your tree (pin oak, loblolly pine) with the damage (1/4 inch holes with wet sap, with dry sap, with sawdust) on the Featured Creatures website and hopefully come up with a match for your problem. The Featured Creatures website has almost 50 publications that showcase insects that cause damage to trees.

If you do not find an answer on the Featured Creatures website please visit your local County Extension Office for assistance.

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 Florida county in a native habitat. A few verified samples (about 20) have turned up in Florida, but all records are from buildings or vehicles.  These typically are brought in by travelers from Midwestern or Mideastern states (the brown recluse, Loxosceles reclusa), cargo shipped to warehouses  that was brought in from other states or Europe (the Mediterranean recluse, Loxosceles rufescens), or international shipments from tropical America (the Chilean recluse, L. laeta).  By the way, this is a good time to point out that it’s unwise to transport firewood, live plants and other plant materials from one state to another, because you may accidentally transport brown recluse spiders and various pest arthropods.

Here’s our take on the question “why do so many people in Florida THINK they see brown recluse spiders?”  The brown recluse is a rather plain-looking spider, especially to the casual observer. It’s brown or yellowish brown with dark brown marks, adults have a leg span about the size of a quarter to a half-dollar, and isn’t usually seen in a web.

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Figure 1. Detail of the carapace of the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa Gertsch and Mulaik, showing the dark fiddle-shaped marking often used to identify this spider. Photograph by James L. Castner, University of Florida.

There are other spiders found in Florida that share some characteristics with the brown recluse – the same approximate size and color, similar habits. Here’s one example — Kukulcania hibernalis, the southern house spider, aka crevice spider, aka that brown, hairless-looking spider that comes charging out of your car’s doorframe or windshield wipers when you try to drive to work in the morning.   The lighter colored males are especially superficially similar to a recluse spider in appearance.

So it is not unreasonable for a person to err on the side of caution and assume that any medium-sized brown spider in a dark, quiet place could be a brown recluse and leave it alone.  The first thing to do once you get a good look at it is to compare what you saw to an online information source.  Remember that it is unlikely that you will find a recluse spider in Florida.  However, if you have compared your spider to the online pictures,  anyone who still truly believes that he or she has found a genuine brown recluse in Florida should contact Dr. G.B. Edwards with FDACS-DPIPlease attach a good digital image of the top of the spider for identification.

Also, you can read more about venomous spiders in this Pest Alert from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

 

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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 this myth:

First, it’s clearly contradicted by the historical record:

The lovebugs commonly seen flying over highways in the Southeast are native to Mexico and Central America. They’ve been observed in the U.S. since at least the late 1930s. It’s believed that lovebugs first entered the U.S. by natural range expansion, or possibly through an accidental introduction.

The species was formally described under the name Plecia nearctica in 1940, by an entomology graduate student at the University of Kansas, D. Elmo Hardy. He had witnessed swarms of the insect in Texas and Louisiana. Incidentally, the lovebug had been recognized by scientists even earlier, and was given a provisional scientific name, Plecia bicolor.

Florida was one of the last Gulf Coast states the lovebug moved into. They were initially reported in 1949, in Escambia County – the county at the westernmost tip of Florida’s Panhandle. The insect gradually made its way further east and south into peninsular Florida.

This brief article from a 1970 issue of The Florida Entomologist documents the extent of the problem lovebugs caused as they became established in North Florida in the late 1960s.

UF’s only significant research on lovebugs came in the early 1970s, when the USDA funded studies to determine the extent of Florida’s newly arrived lovebug problem.

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Figure 1. Adult lovebugs, Plecia nearcticaHardy, swarm on a building.

Photograph by Debra Young, used with permission.

Second, the basic idea is ridiculous.

As a biocontrol organism to use against mosquitoes, Plecia nearctica has very little going for it. Its larvae develop on land, unlike mosquito larvae. The adults feed on nectar, they’re slow fliers, they’re mainly active during the day, and their bodies aren’t well-adapted for seizing and devouring prey.

There’s nothing about the lovebug that would harm Florida’s blood-feeding mosquito species. So it’s hard to imagine any competent scientist looking at Plecia nearctica and thinking “this creature could help us control mosquito populations.”

We suspect that part of the reason this misconception has persisted is because it contains two elements that often appear in urban myths – foolish behavior by supposedly smart people, and good intentions leading to bad and unforeseen consequences. Also, it may be that sports fans at other Southeastern universities have kept the story going, as an off-the-field aspect of the rivalry between the Gators and local teams.

At any rate, the story isn’t true. UF gave you Gatorade, not lovebugs.

You can read more about lovebug myths and facts at this UF/IFAS document.

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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, DEET is a widely available compound with a strong scientific track record that says it works.

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Figure 1. Bloodfeeding female black salt marsh mosquito, Aedes taeniorhynchus.

Photograph by Sean McCann, University of Florida.

Learn more about selecting and using products containing DEET. Also, remember to always read and follow label directions when using insect repellents. If you suspect that you’re having a bad reaction to DEET, then stop use of all products containing DEET and seek medical treatment if needed.

 

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Why is my area so bug-infested?

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 type, like love bug swarms?

Florida’s warm, humid climate provides good breeding conditions for many insects and other land-dwelling arthropods. Some of them are able to maintain large populations year after year because there’s plenty of food, water and shelter. Occasionally, the conditions are especially good and we get huge numbers of certain bugs in certain areas in certain years. These population explosions can be a nuisance locally, but they are normal and usually pose no threat to human health.

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Figure 1. Adult lovebugs, Plecia nearctica Hardy, swarm on a building.

Photograph by Debra Young, used with permission.

 

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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 species of bugs here is the state’s climate. All around the world, warm, humid places often give rise to great natural insect and arthropod diversity.

Another reason is, Florida’s human activities create many opportunities for bugs to be introduced from other places. Because we’re a popular tourist destination, Florida has lots of interstate and international travel. Also, our economy supports businesses that import pet animals, fruits, vegetables, live plants and cut vegetation. Scientists say that, on average, one arthropod pest becomes established in the state each month.

For information on how you can help keep non-native arthropods out of Florida, check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hungry Pest website. The site has a list of things to watch for, and there are even special Florida alerts.

 

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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 your symptoms with your primary care provider or a dermatologist.

If your skin itches and there’s no obvious cause, this resource can help you when you meet with your health-care provider.

 

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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 $4.5 billion in lost revenues between 2006 and 2011, causing the loss of more than 8,200 jobs.

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Figure 1. Adult Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama.

Photograph by Douglas L. Caldwell, University of Florida.

Read more about the Asian citrus psyllid.

UF/IFAS is doing some great research on combating the Asian citrus psyllid, much of which takes place at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

 

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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 or wasp venom, the best thing to do is take precautions to avoid coming into contact with these creatures.bees

 

If you want to know more about bees and wasps, and the vital role they play in pollinating food crops, visit this great publication.BugWeekLogoRectangle

 

 

 

 

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If you have questions that weren’t answered by the FAQ, contact us or contact your local Extension office.