Kayakers look forward to getting away from work and letting go of stress while they paddle vigorously. Unfortunately, it is not only people that enjoy the water. Florida has springs and wetlands, making it ideal for insects. Those who do not live in Florida may need to know how bad the bugs are and when is the worst time to be there. Tips on protection from bugs can significantly benefit the enjoyment of your water sport.
Due to the high-water table and presence of springs, rivers, lakes, and wetlands, Florida is an ideal habitat for bugs, with the worst time of the year being spring and summer. Insect deterrent products and clothing which covers your skin is the most effective way to stop being bitten.
Getting bitten by insects can make any time spent around the water unpleasant. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to avoid being bitten.
Why Are The Bugs Bad In Florida?
Florida is an area with many springs and runs that lead into rivers and lakes. There are also wetlands, and the Everglades occupy 7 800 square miles. Each puddle or muddy embankment is a potential home or breeding ground for insects.
Florida has a warm, humid subtropical climate. However, the winters are not cold, and the summer heat is ideal for insect life cycles.
Mosquitos and biting midges (Culicoides Ceratopogonidae) depend on the water for reproduction and the completion of their life cycle.
Florida provides an ideal environment for these bugs, so you should expect to encounter them in Florida. In addition, several other bugs live in the hot, moist Florida climate, some of which bite humans and animals.
What Time Of Year Are The Bugs Worst In Florida?
The bugs begin breeding in mid to late spring, depending on the temperatures. By early summer, the insects are in full swing. There will be swarms of them, especially around water bodies.
Summer in Florida begins in May and lasts through to the end of September.
Strong sea breezes may help to limit biting midges at the beach as they are weak fliers. However, if you travel a mile or two inland, you will see hordes of biting midges and other bugs.
What Bugs Bite Or Sting People In Florida?
Various bugs can make life unpleasant for kayakers and others who choose to spend their free time out in nature. In addition, some bugs carry diseases that can be life-threatening.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the insects and bugs that reside in Florida.
Female mosquitoes are the ones that bite people as they require a meal of blood to reproduce and lay eggs. Mosquitoes pierce their victim’s skin with their proboscis (aka needlelike mouth) and inject saliva, which carries an anti-clotting substance.
The mosquito saliva irritates the skin, and a raised red, itchy bump develops around the hole. Some people are allergic to mosquito saliva, and large inflamed welts may form from a single mosquito bite.
Children often show these reactions until their bodies have developed some tolerance.
Mosquitoes carry West Nile Virus, St Louis’ Encephalitis, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEEV), which affects horses and people. Not all mosquitoes carry the diseases, but if you are bitten by one, there is a chance of contracting one of these diseases, which can be fatal.
Biting midges are also known as sand flies or no-see-ums. These tiny insects are often found in large swarms.
They bite people for a blood meal; unfortunately, you may be bitten by several because they swarm. Their bite usually causes a red spot, but they do not carry diseases that affect people.
Ticks are arachnids – the same family as spiders. They attach themselves to any warm-blooded animal, including people. They have sharp mouth parts that penetrate the skin and allow the tick to suck blood. There are four important tick species in Florida.
Lone Star ticks are the ticks that bite people most frequently. These ticks transmit southern tick-associated rash illness and ehrlichiosis.
American Dog ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). They are particularly nasty in that they can cause paralysis if they attach to the base of the skull or anywhere along the spinal column. This is worse in children and dogs.
Deer ticks or Black-legged ticks carry babesiosis, Lyme disease, and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA).
Gulf coast ticks carry rickettsia parkeri, which can transmit diseases such as spotted fever to humans.
Chiggers are mites that inject a substance that liquefies tissue on which the chigger feeds. They can be challenging to eliminate and leave inflamed welts on the skin that can last up to two weeks.
Female yellow flies are aggressive and bite humans. They do not carry disease, but their bite is painful and causes large, itchy swellings. They are prevalent during late summer and early fall and are active during the day. Yellow flies are most active in the late afternoon.
Repeated bites can make someone hypersensitive, causing systemic allergic reactions.
Most people are familiar with the burning, itchy sensation caused by fire ants. However, these insects are aggressive and often attack in swarms. In addition, they can cause severe reactions in people who are allergic to them.
Red imported fire ants (RIFA) first arrived in Florida via cargo ships from South America in the 1930s. They are now found throughout the southeastern United States. These ants are a major problem in Florida because they have no natural predators and can quickly overrun an area.
RIFA build large mounds in which they live. The mound can be 6-18 inches high and 10-24 inches wide. If bitten, you will feel a burning sensation followed by the appearance of a white pus-filled blister that resembles a blister.
How To Avoid Being Bitten By Bugs In Florida
Mosquitoes and biting midges are more active at dusk and dawn, so you should try to avoid being outside at this time.
Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants helps to prevent bites from bugs. If you are in tick or chigger areas, tie the ends of your sleeves and pants legs closed to stop the bugs from getting to your skin.
Commercial insect and tick repellents can be bought and should be applied liberally on any exposed skin. In addition, spraying your clothing prevents ticks and chiggers from attaching themselves to your clothes and biting you later.
Light-colored clothing is preferable as many bugs are attracted to bright or dark colors. Also, wear closed shoes to prevent bites from bugs on your feet.
Essential oils such as lemon grass, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary are natural alternatives that repel bugs.
Insecticide sprays can be used on equipment and inside homes to discourage bugs from your general environment.
Florida’s many waterways make it an ideal environment for many insects and other bugs that bite people. As a result, many bugs can carry diseases, and taking steps to prevent being bitten is essential. The bugs are most active in late spring and summer.
Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and using insect repellents can help prevent bites.
The best defense against being bitten by a bug in Florida is to avoid them altogether. But, if you get bit, clean the wound with soap and water and apply an antiseptic cream to help prevent infection. If you have a severe reaction, seek medical help immediately.
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