8 Most Common Pests in Orlando (and How to Get Rid of Them)

group of fire ants

Central Florida has one of the most amazing climates in the world, but we aren’t the only ones who think so. So do the wide array of pests who love the warm weather and call the Orlando area home. We’ll introduce you to the eight most common pests in Orlando and tell you how to get rid of them.

1. Love Bugs

two lovebugs sitting on a leaf
Photo Credit: Bernard DUPONT / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Love bugs appear in the spring and fall, wafting silently and harmlessly through the hot afternoon air until – splat! – they explode against your freshly washed vehicle. Yuck.

They don’t bite, they don’t carry diseases, and they’re otherwise harmless, but the damage they can do to automobile finishes is no small thing.

Love bugs are attracted to irradiated exhaust fumes from cars, lawn mowers, engines, and heat in general. They’re most active in the morning and early evenings when, unfortunately, traffic is heaviest.

How Do I Get Love Bug Guts Off my Car?

LawnStarter has an excellent guide for how to remove love bugs from your car. Here is the short version:

  • Don’t wait! Wash love bugs off painted car surfaces as soon as possible. After just a few days, their acidic remains can begin to damage paint.
  • Blow bug remains off the vehicle with a high-pressure washer. 
  • A coat of fresh wax or baby oil helps keep them from sticking to the front hood, grill, or bumper.
  • Use a commercial cleaning product like Super Clean, Simple Green, or Spray ‘n Wash.
  • Resist the urge to scour off dried bugs with an abrasive agent or material. You’ll damage your paint. Instead, wet a dryer sheet and use it to wipe off the bugs.

2. Palmetto Bugs

Palmetto bug
Photo Credit: Cyndy Sims Parr / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Palmetto bugs are nothing more than a gargantuan version of the cockroach found in the Southeast. They are dark brown to black in color and prefer warm, humid areas such as tree holes, under mulch, or in decaying leaves and other dead vegetation. And their “ick” factor is off the charts.

 How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs

  • How to get rid of palmetto bugs is pretty much the same as how to get rid of cockroaches.

    Be sure there are no exterior cracks or openings palmetto bugs can squeeze through.
  • Roach infestations can be found near water and food sources, so keep your home clean and free of trash.

Cost to exterminate cockroaches: Expect to pay from $125 to $335 to get rid of cockroaches.

3. Chiggers

red chigger on soil
Photo Credit: Scott Akerman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Chiggers rival fire ants for the title of peskiest pest in Florida. Like fleas, they are tiny — scarcely visible to the human eye — but their bites cause intense itching and leave red, puffy welts on the skin. Most people don’t even know they’ve been bitten until later, when the itchy welts appear where clothing is tight, like around ankles and waistlines. 

According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), you usually notice itching from chigger bites four to eight hours after chiggers have attached or have been accidentally removed. The fluid injection causes welts to appear, which may last for two weeks.

Pro Tip: Use repellents containing DEET (N.N-dimethyl-3-benzamide) to protect against chigger bites. Apply repellents to the legs, ankles, cuffs, waist, and sleeves of clothing or directly to the body as directed by the label.

How to Get Rid of Chiggers

  • Mow your lawn frequently to reduce infestations. They like tall grass, so regular lawn care is essential.
  • Use a pesticide containing bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, esfenvalerate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon bifenthrin, carbaryl, cyhalothrin, or permethrin.

4. Mosquitoes

Mosquito on a leaf
Photo credit: Chikilino / Pixabay

How many picnics, ball games, and other outings have been ruined by mosquitoes? We don’t know either, but it’s a lot. And while mosquitoes can be found in every state in the nation, they are a particular problem in warm, wet climates like – you guessed it – Central Florida.

Their bite is painful and can leave itchy welts that last for days. Worse, they can transmit serious diseases like the West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, and parasitic heartworms to our dogs.

How to get rid of mosquitoes in Florida? We’ve got you covered.

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes

Mosquito control is an ongoing battle, but taking these steps will lower their numbers:

  • Remove standing water from flower pots, outdoor pet bowls, and buckets. Why? Because the females lay eggs in any container that holds water. 
  • They also breed and swarm like crazy in naturally swampy areas with standing water. That’s why adding a water fountain to your small pond or water garden can discourage them.
  • Clean gutters so they don’t clog and hold excess moisture.
  • Apply larvicides containing the natural bacterium Bti directly to wet areas to keep hatchlings from reaching adulthood.
  • If you’re hosting a big party or outdoor event, you might want to use a mosquito fogger, a machine that creates a mist of insecticides to kill any mosquitoes in the vicinity.
  • Apply mosquito spray to prevent their bites. Look for products containing picaridin or DEET, which are effective and generally considered safe. Avoid repellents with permethrin, which can cause severe problems for your pets.

Cost to mosquito control: Expect to pay from $175 to $380 to get rid of mosquitoes.

5. Sugar Ants

sugar ants on rock
Photo Credit: Ryan Wick / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Sugar ants are extremely small, between 1.3 to 1.5 mm long, making them very hard to see. Because of their minuscule size, almost no amount of weather stripping or caulking will keep this household pest out of homes. When they get in, they head for food sources and moist areas.

How to Get Rid of Sugar Ants

There are some DIY approaches you can take to deal with sugar ants. Over-the-counter sprays are effective at killing sugar ants on contact. But those that survive often break off into new trails and head into untreated nooks and crannies, creating new infestations. 

When homeowners spy sugar ants, it’s best to hire a pest control expert who will use sprays, baits, granules, and other products that the ants carry back to the queen, eradicating the colony entirely.

Cost to get rid of ants: Expect to pay from $110 and $345 to get rid of ants around your home.

6. Fire Ants

Fire Ants - Pests in Austin
Photo Credit: NguyenBinh735 / Pixabay

Fire ants sting, they hurt, and they’re everywhere in Central Florida. And if you step on a fire ant mound, you probably won’t get just one sting but dozens. In people sensitive to their venom, a single sting is enough to cause an allergic reaction. In almost anyone, however, multiple stings can cause severe reactions.

The good news is, it’s pretty easy to spot the presence of fire ant colonies. Just look for the mounds growing in your lawn. The bad news is, fire ant mounds aren’t easily treated by homeowners. The best way to get rid of fire ants is to hire one of the best pest control companies in Orlando.

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

Many homeowners treat each fire ant mound individually, and while this will have some short-term success, attacking just one mound with insecticide can cause the colonies to spread out. The queen must be killed, and then the rest of the colony eradicated.

IFAS at University of Florida recommends a two-step process that works well.

Step One: Scatter a bait-formulated insecticide on sunny, cool mornings when ants are close to the surface, as directed on the product label. “Hydramethylnon and sulfluramid kill ants by preventing them from converting food into energy,” according to IFAS experts. 

Avermectin comes from a soil fungus and hinders nerve function, which regulates insect growth. 

Step Two: After a few days, treat individual mounds with commercially available ant granules, drench mounds with boiling water, or even excavate them from your property (coat shovel handles with baby powder to keep ants from charging up the handle and stinging you).

7. Termites

Close-up of a group of termites
Photo Credit: Jean and Fred Hort / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Termites are a nightmare for any homeowner, particularly subterranean termites, which account for about 80% of all termite damage in the United States. Pest control giant Orkin estimates the average bill for termite damage repair at around $3,000. 

In the Orlando area, the different types of termites wreak havoc year-round, but they begin to get really active in April and May when the weather gets warmer and wetter. They digest the cellulose found in wood and paper products, causing significant damage to wooden studs, other framing material, and wood trim. They can also damage cabinetry, furniture, books, and stored items.

How to Get Rid of Termites

You shouldn’t tackle termite control on your own but should instead hire a professional to determine the most effective pest control treatment. Termite colonies are generally difficult to eradicate without the knowledge and resources of a professional exterminator.

However, prevention and detection are the keys to keeping your home pest-free and avoiding costly termite problems. Here are some basic preventative measures:

  • Remove excess wood sources, like lumber and branches, from your yard.
  • Stack firewood away from your home.
  • Install gutters to channel water away from your house rather than toward it.
  • Place landscape plants at least two feet away from exterior walls.
  • Trim tree and shrub branches so they don’t contact the house or roof.
  • Repair water-damaged wood.
  • And most importantly, get an annual termite inspection from a reputable Orlando pest control company.

Cost of termite treatment: You’ll pay from $275 to $863 for home termite treatment.

8. Rodents

Rodent sitting and eating
Photo Credit: Ken Wilcox / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

There’s a reason scary movies use squealing, scurrying rats to set a creepy scene: Rats make your skin crawl. The effect on homeowners who have rodent trouble is no different.

Mice and rats can carry diseases, but they also chew up wires and pipes, gnaw through wood, and even lay siege to food in household pantries.

Rodents aren’t always easy to see. Outdoors, they nest in dense vegetation, wood piles, and other places of concealment. If you’re unlucky enough to have them as houseguests, you may find them in crawl spaces, attics, between walls, and in basements.

How to Get Rid of Rodents

If you have rodents, the old-fashioned mouse trap just won’t do. It’s best to hire a professional exterminator.

Once an exterminator treats your home, here are some ways you can keep away rodents for good

  • Cut off their food supply by removing trash daily and sealing food in durable, airtight containers.
  • Seal your trash cans and compost bin.
  • Seal cracks, crevices, and other entry points where rodents might enter and exit.
  • Set humane traps where you suspect rodent activity.
  • Empty and clean pet bowls daily.
  • Install door sweeps to prevent mice from squeezing into your home.

Cost to get rid of mice: To get rid of mice, expect to pay from $246.50 to $432.50. The cost to get rid of rodents (all kinds) ranges from $170 to $500.

When to Hire a Pest Control Pro

From Lake Mary to Altamonte Springs to Winter Park, Orlando pests are relentless. Sometimes, our best efforts at shooing them away aren’t enough. When they seem to be getting the best of you, consider contacting an Orlando pest control pro for a free quote or inspection.

Main Image Credit: Marufish / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Tom McNiff