Within the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades, there are many small critters that lurk about. Sure, when you go on your airboat tour through the massive swamp you’ll want to get your cameras ready for those alligators and crocodiles. But if you’re looking to seek something special, take a closer look at the grass, trees, and even the water. You might just spot an extraordinary multi-legged creature.
Unlike the small, green grasshoppers you might come to know, the Lubber Grasshopper possesses a much a larger appearance (about 3 1/2″ in length). They’re unable to fly but can walk and jump and are also pretty slow creatures. If you happen to spot one go ahead and take a picture, they won’t be going anywhere soon. Their bright colors are meant to ward off any predators as they are extremely toxic to eat. But don’t worry about coming close to one, they’re harmless.
Whirligig Beetles can fly, swim, and dive into water making them one of the most versatile creatures to exist in the animal kingdom. On your next airboat tour, take a look into the water and you’ll likely see these small crawlies as they usually travel in packs. They hunt for their food and detect danger in the water by using their divided eyes to look above and below the surface. Their prey mostly consists of small insects that have fallen into the water and mosquito larvae. Their ability to breathe underwater is due to an air bubble they can trap underneath their abdomen, which functions as a lung.
Golden Orb Spiders
If you’re a Florida resident, you’ve likely come across this creature more than once, regardless if you’ve traversed through the Everglades or not. The Golden Orb Spider (commonly referred to as the Banana Spider) received its name due to its silk looking like gold as it reflects under the sun. They’re harmless for the most part, but come into contact with one and they will attack if they feel threatened. Their bright colors serve as a warning to predators as they can inject venom.
Because the Everglades is home to many species, it can also house invasive ones that damage the ecosystem. Here are some that exist in this national park:
Lobate Lac Scale
These bugs usually congregate in groups and are identified by the sooty black mold they coat themselves with. Native to Sri Lanka and India, Lobate Lac Scales somehow found their way into Broward County in 1999. What makes them harmful to the Everglades is that they destroy a variety of trees and shrubs native to the state. Some trees they damage are the coco plum, strangler fig, and wax myrtle.
No official name is given to these critters, but they have quite a few nicknames such as the Bromeliad Beetle and Mexican Weevil. But they are commonly referred to by many bromeliad enthusiasts as the Evil Weevil. The reason why this is one of their many adopted names is that they damage bromeliad trees and cause destructive damage to the Everglades.
Island Apple Snail
Similar in appearance to the Florida Apple Snail, the Island Apple Snail is actually much larger and can grow to the size of a tennis ball. The reason why these snails are harmful to the Everglades is that they consume some of the other snails that reside in it, causing a shortage of food for the Snail Kite bird. Despite its powerful beak, the Snail Kite is unable to consume the Island Apple Snail due to the density of the snails’ shells, causing the Snail Kite population to dwindle.
Come See More of These Insects and Other Bugs of The Everglades through Fort Lauderdale Airboat Rides
If you’re looking to spot some interesting crawlies of the Everglades, come book a tour with Fort Lauderdale Airboat Rides. We offer tours of Florida’s greatest national park with professional guides who are very familiar with the ecosystem. If interested, give us a call at (954) 338-4890 or visit our contact page.