RV Living in Florida: Beware of Flying, Biting, Stinging Bugs

Ah, sunny Florida. The state name alone conjures up images of white sand beaches, sun baked old farts, golf carts, and tropical umbrella drinks.

FireAnts02.jpgBut there’s one unique aspect of Florida that the tourism guides fail to mention. Bugs! Mean bugs. Flying bugs. Stinging bugs. You name it, this state has some of the nastiest insects that we’ve encountered on our entire trip. Pest control is big business in this state, but as usual, nature bats last.

The Fire Ants

The day we arrived at the farm, Jerry stepped in a pile of ants. It was a matter of seconds before they were swarming up his leg. Then, two days later, I noticed a mound around one set of our RV tires. That was enough to totally freak me out.

I asked the farmer what to do about them. “Can’t do much. You can get Amdro and they’ll go away from that spot, but they’ll just relocate to another one. You really can’t win.”

Amdro isn’t organic, but since we aren’t camped near the veggie fields, the farmer didn’t care if we used it. I ran to Lowes and picked up a gallon of this granule control. The ants disappeared from the tire mound in a day. But then, today, one week later, I found a swarming nest of ants inside the crate our generator was sitting in. What fun it was trying to pull the generator out while they swarmed up my hands.

These fire ants are vicious, and move quickly. Their bite is almost as bad as a bee sting. Some people say they serve a purpose, but I don’t know why they would be put on this earth, other than for an occasional laugh.

Be warned if you RV here. Keep a watch around your RV, don’t leave things on the ground for too long, and check under your astroturf tarp often.

Flying Cockroaches

Floridians like to call them “Palmetto Bugs.” Sounds kinda pretty, doesn’t it? Well, this is just another name for an old fashioned nasty, fat cucaracha, but worse. The best part: these damn things fly! They’ll fold down as flat as a sheet of paper to get into your rig. We’ve even found one in the freezer.

These aren’t like regular roaches that scatter as soon as you turn on the lights. Nature’s sick joke on us is that they’re extremely nervy; they’re harder to kill, are attracted to light, and will jump right onto your head in a flash.

I’ve been a meticulous housekeeper since moving into the rig, but since discovering the flying cockroaches, I’ve kicked up my cleaning streak two notches, and now no kitchen garbage or floor debris is allowed to remain in the rig overnight. So far, so good.


If this is winter, I’d really hate to see what summer is like. Florida mosquitoes will buzz around even when the temperature warms up to 70. There are swarms of them, and my body has gotten so bitten up, I look like a leprosy case. I’ve always been a mosquito magnet, and since arriving here, their attraction to me has been even stronger.

The War Cry

PestControl01.jpgIn our first two weeks here, I’ve spent money on pest control products. The farmer thinks it’s funny. I realize that my attempts to secure our rig from these predators is probably futile, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to live in such a small space and live in fear of these useless creatures! I’ve applied all of my products, and all unrefrigerated, open bags of food are going into ziplocs. I won’t give up without a fight, even if it means using nasty, caustic chemicals! Screw green living, this means war!

9 thoughts on “RV Living in Florida: Beware of Flying, Biting, Stinging Bugs”

  1. Ah yes, the vector infested tropical South, you go Jimbo (you go elsewhere says I)!

    I completely understand where you’re coming from as I never developed a fondness for the many creatures (centipedes that have fangs and that bite like rattlesnakes, cockroaches, spiders, etc.) of Hawaii so you have my empathy on this one. Yes, it’s warm and the living is easy, however, when the armies of evolution’s evolvements pass the word around that warm is good (as insects have limited internal warming ability) then the party is on. The story goes something like this:

    “I’m out of here Sam, this roach is done with New York City!”

    “Whoa, Herb, think about what you’re saying, New York has some of the finest scraps an insect could want. Think about last nights trash at Les Hals, sure, the mint sauce was a big strong but the gristle from the lamb, mmmmm, second to none.”

    “You’re a good roach Sam and I respect your ways and if any one of us has got a refined pallet it’s you, you’re the soma lier of sludge and I don’t say that lightly, but it’s a family thing, we’re getting tired of all of climbing, the feral neighborhood cats, the mice, and, well, you know, the competition here can sometimes overwhelm a guy whose trying to feed his 133 offspring. And besides, the wife can’t keep up with the demands of family, friends and Winters as well. Do you remember last Thanksgiving at Chez Papas on West 73rd?”

    “Oh my food chain do I ever, what a feast, Turkey in an orange glaze with sprigs of rosemary. Yeah, I also remember that lazy dishwasher who didn’t seal the garbage bags, it was like a vermin spa day I tell you, what of it?”

    “It was a turning point for us as the weather forced us deeper into the subway for the evening. The family gets a little nervous when traveling so far down as predator ratios get higher and the wife gets a little nervous for the kids. She’s also tired of the commute Sam, sure, we’ve got a nice place in the walls between a 10 story tenement on 120th, but the renters have been late on utilities and sometimes the place gets a bit cold, we’ve lost 22 boys this year alone. Sheila just wants out and besides, she’s got extended family in Florida who’ve said they’ve got plenty of room since the sub prime mortgage collapse. Turns out there’s a couple from California passing through New Jersey this weekend in a fifth wheel and we’ve decided to hide behind a panel next to the sink. Talk about clean living Sam, she’s a vegetarian so the family and I think there’ll be some serious trimming down, hey, a thin carapace is a good carapace (they both laugh).”

    “Ah Herb, the warm weather and that sweet smell of fetid remnants, I’m jealous I tell you. Hey, do me a favor when you settle down, have a big dollop of coagulating grease for me, will ya do that for me?” “Sam, I’m gonna smear it all over these dirty tendrils just for you.”

    And so they both embraced, the embrace of two friends who have passed through many a stove-pipe and grease trap together. Who both understand that each must chart out their destinies on their own terms.

    And a good night was had by all, Eric.

  2. Well I’m in California and it was 30 deg outside this am when I hit the road for my 60 mile ride to work. I finally gave in an got some heated gloves last January, back in service this morning and glad to have them!

    So. Lake Tahoe was 2deg this morning, we left there yesterday afternoon and it was 21deg and snowing on the summit at 3pm.

    But there are no bugs now, so common back 😉

  3. Hi Jacq, soooo sorry to hear about the accident.

    I think Florida is very worthwhile to RV in. There are lots of good parks, and fun fulltimers here. Just do it in “winter” when the bugs aren’t so bad!

    Hope to see you soon out here.

  4. Oh, dear… My husband and I were going to take our first official RV trip to Miami, FL for a client project. Only our Fifth Wheel had a little accident and is in shop for repair for the next month or so, now we have to fly there and stay in a hotel for January. I can’t imagine dealing with all the bugs.

    I might want to rethink if it is worth it to go RVing there~ Hope you guys are having a blast there other than dealing with bugs though. San Antonio is pretty comfy during the day but at night gets pretty cold (low 30’s). I would like to be somewhere warm, and without the bug issues~


  5. Yeah. People wonder why I’ve sworn a blood oath never to set foot in Florida again. I hate that place. Hate it with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns.

  6. I spent a summer in Florida back in the 70s. Near Orlando. I had no idea what I was getting in to. The company I worked for put us up in a trailer park. It was so hot the evening I got there, I thought I’d go swimming in the park’s pool. I left the door to the trailer open to try and cool it off. I left a small light on….

    When I got back the walls were covered with thousands of bugs, including those flying cockroaches.!

    You’re lucky it’s winter. In the summer the bug population increases 10 fold. Love bugs are especially…lovely. They arrive in swarms. The splatter you windshields. They make the roads slick with bug juice.

    Get out while you can!

  7. Geez, it’s a wonder all the newborn kids in Florida don’t have two heads or three arms with all that pesticide in use … but if you’ve ever been there you’ll know it’s true. These critters are EVERYWHERE. And you couldn’t kill one of those Palmetto bugs with arsenic or a flame thrower.

    I know a huge number of people who live there and for the life of me, I don’t know why.

    Merry Christmas to all creatures great and small.


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