Since graduating university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and educator. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
Don't get me wrong, I love living in the sunshine state—but that doesn't mean that I like all the bugs that we have here. This article looks at small crawling things that you really don't want living inside your Florida home, mainly because they can bite you, compromise food or hygiene, gradually destroy your house, or cause other problems.
10 Household Bugs in Florida That You Don't Want in Your Home
- Bed Bugs
- Fruit Flies
- Biting Midges (No-Seeums)
- Bees and Wasps
Cockroaches can cause numerous problems if they become established in a home. They can contaminate food and spread the bacteria responsible for E. coli and Salmonella, as well as make allergies and asthma attacks much worse. There are numerous types of cockroach that call Florida their home, but I will highlight below three common ones that you can often find inside your home: American, German, and Asian.
- American cockroaches are very large, outdoor cockroaches that can make their way inside when the weather is bad. These bugs are often referred to as "palmettos" by the locals. These big bugs can be alarming when you come across one by surprise, but in terms of infestation they are generally less of a concern that some of the smaller types, such as the German cockroach. American cockroaches are able to fly short distances, but it's not often that they do so. Despite their name, these bugs are not native to North America and likely came over in boats from Africa.
- German cockroaches are the commonest type of cockroach in the USA. They are a real pest and are difficult to get rid of once they become established in your home. They like to live around humans, move fast, and breed quickly. These cockroaches usually enter a property via infested items, such as bags, boxes, used furniture and appliances.
- Asian cockroaches look very similar to German ones, but they are much better fliers. They are less of an infestation threat than German ones, as they prefer the outdoors. They have an attraction to light though, so will come inside at night if you leave a door or window open, and generally head for the nearest light bulb or TV screen.
Termites compromise housing structures and can cause thousands of dollars in damage, often without the householder even being aware until it's too late. It's therefore wise to get your property inspected by a pest control specialist at least every two or three years for signs of termite infestation. These destructive bugs feed mainly on wood, but can also damage books, paper, insulation, swimming pool liners, and filtration systems. If you think you may have termites, you should call a pest control specialist immediately.
3. Bed Bugs
Bed bug infestations are highly disruptive and expensive to tackle. These tiny bugs feed off human blood, usually when the host is asleep. They lay their eggs in beds, couches, carpets, clothes, and luggage. Visitors to Florida are prone to picking up bed bugs at a busy hotel and then inadvertently transporting them in their clothes and luggage to other places, or back home. If you think that your clothing may be infested, the bugs and their eggs can be killed by putting the items in a dryer at the hottest temperature advisable. If you think that your home might be infested, call a pest control professional.
There are many types of ant in the sunshine state, but according to the University of Florida, the types that are most likely to become household pests are Argentine, carpenter, crazy, Caribbean, pharaoh, white footed, ghost, pyramid, rover, native fire, imported fire, thief, acrobat, and big-headed. There are numerous ways that ants can cause problems, these include:
- Invading and infesting buildings by constructing nests in walls or beneath structures.
- Building nests in structural wood.
- Consuming and contaminating human food.
- Building unsightly ant colonies and mounds in lawns and garden areas.
- Inflicting painful bites and stings.
5. Fruit Flies
Fruit flies aren't just a serious threat to crops in Florida, they can also get into your home, where they multiply quickly. The easiest way for these bugs to come in is through your front door, so make sure that you keep it shut. They are also tiny, so can get through even the smallest hole or rips in door or window screens. Even if your house is sealed up pretty well, they lay their eggs in fruit, so after fruit is brought inside, the eggs can hatch. To minimize the risk of fruit flies, get rid of any decaying fruit, vegetables, or meat inside the home.
Mosquitoes are an everyday hazard in Florida. The sunshine state has around eighty different species, more than any other US state. Although these biting bugs are generally more of an outdoor issue, there are some species that like the indoors too. To keep the mosquitoes away, it is important to remove sources of standing water, as the mosquitoes like to lay their eggs close to standing water. Any broken door or window screens should be fixed too. There are a number of insecticides that are designed for indoor use and these can be employed. Mosquitoes like dark, humid places, so you should pay particular attention to your laundry room, closets, and underneath sinks and furniture.
7. Biting Midges (No-Seeums)
Biting midges, also known as no-seeums, are ubiquitous in Florida. They are so tiny it can be difficult to see individual bugs and you may not notice them until they bite. Their bites don't spread diseases, but they are painful. They operate in swarms and are mainly encountered at sunrise and sunset. Although no-seeums are not indoor bugs, they will attack people sat on home patios and other entertainment areas, if the areas are not screened off by fine mesh screens. Ceiling or window fans can also deter them, as they are not strong fliers.
There are many spider species in Florida and the truth is that most of them do a great job of keeping down the insect population, even if their cobwebs are unwelcome in the home. The majority of spiders are completely harmless to humans, but I will highlight three below that you should be aware of are: wolf spiders, widows, and recluses.
- Although wolf spiders are large and look pretty threatening, they are in fact timid and will run away from humans if they can. They will only bite you if they feel trapped. Although their venom is strong enough to paralyze an insect, its effects are weak when it comes to humans and the bite has a similar strength to a bee sting.
- Florida is home to four species of widow spider: the southern black widow, the northern black widow, the red widow, and the brown widow. Widows generally shy away from people, but if you touch a female by mistake, then you may get bitten. This spider's venom is very toxic and a bite can cause intense pain, as well as nausea, muscle cramps, and sweating. Medical attention should be sought straightaway.
- Recluse spiders have a venomous bite that can put you in hospital or worse, but fortunately they are rarely found in Florida. According to the University of Florida, nearly all reported sightings are cases of misidentification. Those sightings that are genuine are typically recluses that have been accidentally transported into the state from other places. However, it is still best to err on the side of caution if you think that a spider might be a recluse and treat it with care.
Fleas feed off the blood of warm-blooded animals such as dogs, cats, and less commonly humans. There are thought to be just under twenty species of flea that live in Florida. They can cause allergy and skin problems for pets and humans. They can also spread diseases, such as murine typhus or plague, although this is rare. I've highlighted four types of flea to be aware of below:
- Cat fleas are the most common type of flea found in Florida. They can be found on both cats and dogs, and have been known to spread tapeworms, as well as cause diseases and skin problems.
- Although dog fleas are far less prevalent than cat fleas, there are some that live in the sunshine state. They can be found on dogs and foxes.
- Human fleas are rare in the modern age, thanks to better sanitary conditions, but they can still be found on short-haired animals, such as dogs and pigs. Although cat and dog fleas are capable of biting a person, they aren't suited to living on humans, whereas human fleas are.
- Sticktight fleas burrow their heads under the skin of their hosts and are difficult to remove. They don't carry disease but can cause eye infections, as well as anemia in young animals. They can be found on birds, dogs, horses, pigs, cats, and humans
10. Bees and Wasps
The majority of bee and wasp species are social and are fond of making their homes on or around human structures. This can cause problems as they can interpret any human coming close as a threat. Bees and wasps can inflict painful stings individually, but it's getting multiple stings from a swarm that you should really be concerned about. If the victim has a rare allergy, or there are a massive number of stings, the results can even be fatal in extreme circumstances. Before anybody starts to panic though, It should be noted most bees and wasps are not aggressive unless deliberately harassed.
How to Keep Bugs Out of the House
- Food hygiene is essential. All food preparation surfaces, stoves, sinks, cupboards, kitchen and dining-room floors should be wiped down and kept clean at all times.
- Never leave out leftovers. Store in airtight containers or throw it away.
- Empty out the trash regularly, especially if it contains food matter or used drink containers.
- Keep your kitchen, bathrooms, basement, cool and dry.
- Seal any cracks and holes in the walls that bugs can use to gains entrance. Gaps under doors or around windows should also be blocked.
- Keep a vegetation-free gap of two or three feet around the house, no plants, shrubs, or other greenery.
- Don't have any standing water near to the house.
- Remove or replace any rotting wood that forms part of, or is close to the house.
- Store firewood away from house, at least twenty feet, and keep it raised up off the ground.
- If you do get infested, call in a pest control service.
Sources and Further Reading
- Cockroach | Florida Pest Control
- Termites in Florida | University of Florida
- What’s the No. 1 spot for bed bugs in your hotel room? | News Channel 8
- How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies | Nozzle Nolen
- Biting Midges, No-See-Ums | UF Entomology and Nematology
- Getting Rid of Fleas | University of Florida
- Wasps and Bees | University of Florida
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Paul Goodman
Lorna Lamon on September 05, 2019:
This is an interesting article with good advice. Friends of our in Australia had lots of problems with termites which tended to thrive in the humidity. They eventually moved out of the area after spending lots of money having their house treated. Thanks for sharing.
Paul Goodman (author) from Florida, USA on September 04, 2019:
Many bugs thrive in the hot, humid, subtropical climate of Florida. They can be very troublesome and you have to have strategies for dealing with them. On the other hand, it's also important to remember than they form part of a wider ecosystem.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 04, 2019:
That's an impressive list of bugs. Would you say that the downside of a warmer climate is a strong breeding ground for bugs?