All kinds of bugs live in and love the neighborhoods of New Orleans. Some are more annoying than others. Here are four insects found in New Orleans that tend to bug the locals.
That said, you may find some or all of these at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, which is also known as the New Orleans bug museum.
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Mosquitos have caused lots of misery, disease, and death in New Orleans since it was founded. They were the unknown cause of the yellow fever epidemics, which often created an atmosphere similar to a medieval plague in New Orleans.
Mosquitos still cause disease and death. Of local concern in New Orleans is the West Nile Virus. Mosquitos pass the virus to humans after biting an infected bird.
To the dogs of New Orleans who are not on preventative medication, mosquitos are still a deadly threat. A mosquito bite is how dogs become infected with killer heartworms.
Mosquitos need water to breed, but they don't need much. And despite all the mosquito control measures, these insects are still around in numbers large enough to make a summer night miserable. You can get bitten any time, but some species are especially active at dusk and dawn, and others in the hours around midnight.
Fun fact: Only the female mosquito actually bites.
02 of 04
Termites are insect environmentalists -- the ultimate recyclers of wood, which is their food. But that's a bad thing when they pick your house to recycle.
In New Orleans, subterranean termites are a big concern. These critters enter a building from the ground below, so there are often no obvious signs of their occupancy within. In addition to the "regular" subterranean type, the Formosan termite which came over on World War II ships. They eat faster, eat more and build much larger colonies than the native species.
Termite life is a highly organized caste system. The termites that cause panic during their swarms around outdoor lights in the spring are the reproducers or alates. These swarmers are looking for mates for a future colony. The majority of termites are the blind workers and soldiers who rarely leave their nests and tunnels.
Fear that the French Quarter would be literally eaten up by the Formosan termite led to a control program financed by the federal government.... Those silver and gold discs on the sidewalks of the French Quarter are covers for the termite baits and traps.
03 of 04
The roaches of New Orleans are bad enough when they scurry across the floor or crawl along the ceiling and walls. But when they fly, it's horrifying. These intimidating insects can send some native New Orleanians running from the room.
Roaches eat just about anything: food bits, glue off books, stamps, and even furniture. They love New Orleans due to the heat, moisture, and humidity, plus all the hiding places in old buildings. Most New Orleans specimens are German roaches or American roaches. They can squeeze through the smallest of spaces, so fix doors and windows gaps. And pick plastic over paper at the grocery store, or at least get those brown paper bags out of the house fast. That's a favorite mode of roach transportation.
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Those stinging spiny scary caterpillars that literally fall from the trees in New Orleans every spring are another source of local insect fear. Plus, their sting really really hurts.
After their cocoon stage, the caterpillars turn into buck moths, which fly around during deer season. They are brown and black, with a white stripe on their wings and a fuzzy body. In spring, the eggs that were laid on oak trees hatch into the stinging caterpillars, who can be seen in prickly bunches on tree branches. They crawl down or drop from the branches and can often be found under every tree in a neighborhood or park.
The spines on these fuzzy and prickly creatures are their defense mechanism. The spines, which are hollow, release a poison that causes the sting when they prick your skin.
Buckmoths are found from Louisiana through Missouri and up to Maine, but New Orleans is probably their favorite town due to climate and supply of oak trees.
Do not touch these caterpillars. If they sting you, use scotch... tape to pull the spines out of your skin. Then soothe your skin with an ice pack, but prepare to suffer a bit.