Florida Bugs

Florida Bugs are legendary. Their variety and ferocity are due to the survival of the fittest. In most of the States this means the ability to withstand cold but in Florida it means the ability to do as much damage as possible before getting swatted. Before moving to Florida, lets take advantage of the fact that the bugs aren't all attacking at the same time and examine each bug individually.

  • No-See-Um -- Somewhere between Virginia and Georgia rests the no-see-um line, south of which the no-see-um rules. The Indian name ( noum-seeum-umum ) was shortened sometime after the white man's arrival. The no-see-um's presence accounts for huge areas of uninhabited southern land, the no-see-um having eaten alive anyone having dared to enter. It's bite feels like a cigarette burn and after the first bite the only thing to do is wave your arms in the air and run. The waving accounts for the famous " southern hospitality " legend. If you see a Floridian waving, he's not being friendly, he's shooing away no-see-ums.

  • Gnats -- Much like the No-See-Um except actually visible. Some gnats bite and all fly in your eyes, ears, up your nose and in your mouth. A defense against gnats and some other bugs will hereafter be known as the "dirty dog" defense. You adopt a particularly filthy, sore infested dog and hope the gnats jump on him instead of you. It is also helpful that the dog be slow , perhaps a three legged dog, so that you can outrun the dog, leaving him behind in the cloud of gnats. Sometimes Joe Bob, Jim Bob or Bob Bob from down the street can be substituted for the dog. A lesser known defense is the "cane pole" defense. A piece of meat is tied on the line of a cane fishing pole and shoulder carried much as a fishing pole in the hopes that the gnats will stay a pole's length away from you and land on the meat. The "cane pole" and "dirty dog" or "cane pole" with "dirty dog ( Bob Bob variation)" defense cannot be used simultaneously for obvious reasons.

  • Tiger Mosquitoes -- Every life form in Florida was tormented by mosquitoes only at night so Florida imported the Tiger Mosquito. It is easily recognized by its striped legs and eagerness to suck you dry in direct sunlight. Mosquito repellents work well against the tiger mosquito if you spray some repellent in a container and drown the mosquito or crush the mosquito with the can.

  • Malaria Mosquito -- When the malaria mosquito bites you, he sticks his rear legs into the air. However by the time you recognize the malaria mosquito, it's too late. You have Malaria.

  • Encephalitis Mosquito -- All of what is said in "Malaria Mosquito" is true of the Encephalitis Mosquito, except that the Encephalitis Mosquito does not stick his rear legs in the air. The State of Florida feeds the Encephalitis Mosquito statewide with caged chickens.

  • AIDS Mosquito -- This mosquito may or may not exist depending on who you talk to. This mosquito is best avoided by living miles from anyone with a ring in his left ear ( or is it the right ear ? ) or anyone else of the same or opposite sex or monkeys of the same or opposite sex.

  • West Nile Virus Mosquito -- Not much is known about this mosquito. It has just been imported by the State of Florida and as of now is only killing birds. Florida is breeding and training the mosquito however and it will soon be killing humans as well.

  • Scorpion -- Imagine my surprise when I scooped the pants I wore the day before off the floor, slipped them on and met my first scorpion! It hit me three times before I could get my pants off! I sat around waiting to die like the guys in the movies. Nothing happened! A little swelling and that was it. The scorpions in my neighborhood are small and feel almost as bad as a bee sting.

  • Fire Ant -- Fire ants have taken over Florida. No other ant can compete. The sting feels like a hot coal popped out of the fire and got you. The next day you have a small white blister. If you scratch the blister you get a nasty sore. If you get a few on you they will all sting at the exact same time. NASA should study their means of communication. They build dirt mounds sometimes a foot high and swarm after a rain to start new colonies.

  • Love Bug -- When the Monarch Butterfly leaves Florida it is invaded by the love bug. I would describe one but nobody has ever seen a single love bug. There is no danger to anyone from the love bug except motorcyclist due to the huge amount of the bugs that motorcyclist eat. They ( the motorcyclist ) grow fat off the nutritious bug and die of strokes and heart attacks. This will soon change however. Florida has repealed the motorcycle helmet law so that more bugs can blind the motorcyclist and send them crashing into school buses and roadside peanut stands.

  • Black Widow Spider --- There are Black Widow Spiders throughout the States but there are more in Florida than anywhere else. They are smooth and shiny black with a red hourglass on their belly, however I don't recommend rolling it over to see the belly. When bitten you will feel the pain within one to three hours and it may last up to 48 hours. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, sweating, leg cramps, weakness and difficulty breathing. Seek medical attention!

  • Brown Recluse Spider --- These are yellow-orange to brown and can grow to about the size of a quarter with a violin-shaped marking on its head. The bite feels like a sting followed by intense pain. The bite may develop into a large ulcer. Symptoms develop within 36 hours. Seek medical attention!

  • Vinegaroon --- These are often mistaken for a scorpion due to its similar color and size. When provoked it will spray a vinegar-like substance that is an eye irritant. You can flush your eyes with water and usually wont need to see a doctor.

  • Assassin (or Kissing) Bug --- These can be black and white or a bright orange. They inject poison through a slender mouth tube. These cause extreme pain followed by swelling and redness. Seek medical attention!

  • Giant Water Bug --- Like the Kissing Bug, the Giant Water Bug injects a tissue-dissolving venom causing extreme pain, redness and swelling. Seek medical attention!

  • Blister Beetle --- These are black to grey or striped or brightly colored. They excrete juices that cause the skin to blister like a burn.

  • Caterpillars --- There are three caterpillars that cause redness, swelling, localized pain, itching and rash, if their spines stick you. The Saddleback Caterpillar (brown w/light green back and a brown "saddle" spot), the Io Caterpillar (pale green w/red-yellow stripe and yellow spines) and the Puss Caterpillar (about an inch long, white-tan with spine-like hairs covering it).

  • Yellow Fly --- The Yellow Fly can bite the tough sole of your foot. He lands on you as light as a feather and feels like being shot with a BB gun. The "dirty dog" defense ( see Gnat ) OR "dirty dog ( Bob Bob variation )" defense sometimes works. Although nobody can outrun a yellow fly, people try it out of desperation. It's rumored that the first human powered flight was by a person running and swatting Yellow Flies.

So if you are itching to retire to Florida, a few pints of extra blood would be a great help. If you come stop on by and we'll go for a walk. Here, carry this piece of meat !





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