Lovebugs, termites, mosquitoes, cockroaches – there is no doubt that Florida is home to many insects, and they seem to thrive in the state's hot, humid conditions.
You can’t avoid them, so this week on Florida Matters we’re talking about how to deal with them.
Our guests include:
Phil Koehler, endowed professor at the University of Florida who specializes in urban entomology.
Steve Fuhs, service coordinator with the pest control company Truly Nolen’s Port Richey Service Office.
We talk about how the large amount of rain we received last year has made this year’s lovebug population bigger than normal.
Phil Koehler explained why lovebugs, which get their name because mating males and females fly together, can stain your car.
“The female will have eggs in her body and when you hit her, that’s what causes the white goo that covers over your windshield and sometimes can even clog the radiator,” he said. “You really should try and get the lovebugs washed off as soon as possible.”
For those thinking of calling their exterminator when they see lovebugs swarming near the home, Steve Fuhs said it’s not worth it.
“There’s really not much we can do for lovebugs being that it’s a flying insect, and more than likely they’re not going to land where the product is,” he explained. “So, unfortunately, we have to just tell them that they’re seasonal and will eventually go away.”
We learn that some people get bit by mosquitoes more often because their body oils smell better to the bugs than other people’s, and that exercise and other activities that involve emitting more carbon dioxide than usual can also attract mosquitoes.
“The mosquito is the most dangerous animal in the world,” argued Phil Koehler. “There are more deaths caused by mosquitos than caused by sharks, or bears, or lions or snakes all wrapped into one…So we have to look very seriously at mosquito control and try to keep those numbers down.”
Steve Fuhs outlined his company’s mosquito control efforts and offered some suggestions as to how residents can protect their property.
“Getting rid of any standing water, you know if they have an old bird bath that they don’t use that has water in it, could be a trash can lid that’s flipped over and has water – those are natural breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” he said.
In terms of protecting yourself, check out the list of CDC-approved insect repellents.
We talk about how to spot the various types of termite infestations and tell the difference between drywood termites and ants, which are both swarming this season
“All termites are going to eat wood and do damage to your house,” said Steve Fuhs. “It’s usually about an average of $7-8,000 (in damage) before you know that you have them. The hardest thing to do is convince somebody that they need to be proactive instead of reactive as far as getting a preventative treatment.”
Phil Koehler pointed out termite infestations can especially pose problems during hurricane season.
“When we have a hurricane like what came into Panama City last year (Hurricane Michael), a lot of the roofs came off of houses even though there were hurricane tie-downs because termites had eaten off the wood that was supposed to hold the roof on, so the hurricane tie-downs did not work,” he said.
Lastly, we ask whether palmetto bugs are actually a unique type of insect or just another name for a cockroach. According to the experts, what people call palmetto bugs are usually American or Australian roaches.
Steve Fuhs described some of the ways his company tackles roaches and encouraged residents to protect any cracks or crevices in their homes so the bugs can’t get in.
The challenge, Phil Koehler pointed out, is that cockroaches can often evolve to withstand the various products used to kill them.