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Dangerous Critters in Florida. By Martha Thomas Lake County Livestock Agent. Protecting Farm Workers. Educate employees about critters Description of animals in the environment and what to do if spotted. Know if employee has a health issue and have on record.

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dangerous critters in florida

Dangerous Critters in Florida


Martha Thomas

Lake County Livestock Agent

protecting farm workers
Protecting Farm Workers
  • Educate employees about critters
    • Description of animals in the environment and what to do if spotted.
  • Know if employee has a health issue and have on record.
  • Buy sting kits and put in an accessible location (Work Trucks, Tractor, Barn)
keeping area safe
Keeping Area Safe
  • Know where critters are hiding!
  • Investigate sightings
  • Take occasions to hunt them down and exterminate.
  • If it is dangerous you may need to call an exterminator.
poisonous spiders
Poisonous Spiders
  • There are five species of venomous spiders in Florida.
  • The four widow species are all about ½” long with legs extended.
  • Females lay about 250 eggs in a pear-shaped egg sac that is about ½” to 5/8” in diameter.
  • The eggs hatch in about 20 days.
southern black widow
Southern Black Widow
  • Most widespread in Florida. It is glossy black with a complete hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen.
  • Found under rocks and boards and around old buildings.
symptoms of bite
Symptoms of Bite
  • Bite feels like tiny pin prick.
  • Initial pain disappears rapidly, leaving local swelling and two tiny red marks.
  • Muscular cramps, pain in abdomen, nausea, sweating, and difficulty breathing.
  • Death can occur depending on victims physical condition.
red widow
Red Widow
  • Black abdomen and reddish-orange head, thorax and legs.
  • Top of abdomen usually has a row of red spots with yellow borders. This spider lacks a complete hourglass on the underside of the abdomen and instead usually has one or two small red marks.
red widow habitat
Red Widow Habitat
  • Red Widow’s construct their webs in palmettos and has been found primarily in sand-pine scrub habitats in central and southeast Florida.
brown widow
Brown Widow
  • This spider varies from light

Gray to light brown to black.

  • Abdomen has variable markings of black, white, red and yellow.
  • The underside has orange or yellow hourglass.
brown widow habitat
Brown Widow Habitat
  • Found most often south of

Daytona Beach along the coast.

  • It usually makes its web on buildings in well-lighted areas.
brown recluse habitat
Brown Recluse Habitat
  • Found in sheds, garages or

areas of homes that are

undisturbed and contain a supply of insects to serve as food.

  • Persons bitten usually do not feel pain for two to three hours.
  • Blister arises at the site of the bite, followed by inflammation. Skin dies and takes six to eight weeks to heal.
Not an established species in


  • Recognized by the distinctive dark violin-shaped mark located on the head and thorax.
  • 1/4” to ½” long light tan to deep reddish-brown.
if bitten
If Bitten
  • Preserve spider in rubbing alcohol for positive identification.
  • If you suspect it was a venomous spider get medical attention immediately.
venomous snakes in florida
Venomous Snakes in Florida
  • Six Species
  • Vipers have vertical (cat-like) pupils and a deep facial pit between each eye and nostril. They have blocky, triangular shaped heads that are broader than their necks.
cotton mouth water moccasin
Cotton Mouth/Water Moccasin
  • Most aquatic of Florida’s venomous snakes and occur throughout the state.
  • About 3’ long.
  • Adults are dark-colored and may have a faint cross band pattern or be a uniform black.
  • Small area in Panhandle west of Tallahassee. Primarily along Apalachicola River and its tributaries.
  • <3’ long with light brown to grey and dark brown colors.
  • Hourglass shape that makes exceptional camouflage in forests.
eastern diamond backed rattlesnake
Eastern Diamond-Backed Rattlesnake
  • Very Dangerous
  • Florida’s largest venomous snake may exceed 6’ in length.
  • Lives in dry habitats such as pinelands, scrub, and golf courses.
  • Some individuals may not rattle, even when they are poised to strike.
timber rattlesnake canebrake rattlesnake
Timber Rattlesnake(Canebrake Rattlesnake)
  • Only found in Northern Florida as far south as Gainesville and in limited portions of the Panhandle.
  • Prefers moist pinelands, river bottomlands, and hammocks.
  • Pinkish-gray to tan body color with prominent, irregularly-shaped, dark marks and bands.
  • Large thick heads and there may be a band running from each eye to the rear of the head.
pygmy rattlesnake
Pygmy Rattlesnake
  • Smallest of Florida’s venomous snakes, exist in the entire state except the keys. Rarely exceed 20” in length.
  • Live in pine flatwoods, oak scrub, open pinelands, and palm hammocks.
  • Bodies are covered with numerous dark blotches with a row of darker blotches running down the middle of the snake’s back.
coral snake
Coral Snake
  • Many habitats throughout the state but are seldom encountered because they are quite secretive and spend much of their lives underground.
  • Rarely longer than 30” and no bigger around that a quarter.
  • Redand YellowWill Kill a Fellow

Red and Black Friend of Jack

africanized honey bees ahb
Africanized Honey Bees (AHB)
  • Most noticeable characteristic is that it responds quickly to disturbances by people and animals 50 feet or more from the nest.
  • AHB can sense vibrations from power equipment 100 feet or more from the nest.
  • AHB will chase enemy up to a mile or more.
apiculture activity
Apiculture Activity
  • In Africa they use bee hunting rather than bee keeping. Therefore, bees became more aggressive to protect themselves and therefore are unpredictable in behavior.
  • European honey be population in the U.S has been selected by beekeepers for manageable traits (gentleness, reduced swarming, high honey hoarding.
ahb characteristics
AHB Characteristics
  • Smaller than European bee and constructs cone with smaller cells.
  • Nest in smaller cavities and sometimes underground.
ahb affect on public
AHB Affect on Public
  • Decreased recreation and tourism
  • Liability issues in judicial system and insurance industry.
  • Loss of honey bees for crop pollination which are vital to our economy and food supply.
  • Reduced availability and higher costs of certain foods may result.
protecting farm from ahb
Protecting Farm From AHB
  • Remove potential nesting site
  • Inspect exterior walls and eaves
  • Seal openings > 1/8”
  • Install screens over vents, rain spouts, utility boxes and tree cavities
  • Inspect area for bee activity during peak swarming season (spring through fall)
bee safety precautions
Bee Safety Precautions
  • Listen for buzzing and look for bees entering or leaving an area, indicating a nest or swarm
  • Carefully enter areas where bees might be nesting
  • Examine area before using noisy equipment or penning livestock
  • Never disturb a swarm or colony of bees contact pest control company to remove
locating colony
Locating Colony
  • Stay Away
  • Protect face and eyes
  • Take Shelter in enclosed area (Vehicle, house) Not water source they will wait
  • Contact Pest Control Company
if stung
If Stung
  • Scrape stingers from skin with a blunt object as soon as possible. If not done, venom will continue to be injected over time.
  • Wash with soap and water and apply ice.
  • If allergic reaction occurs seek medical attention immediately.
ahb effects
AHB Effects
  • AHB brought disaster to South and Central America beekeeping. Beekeepers were not prepared for the large, wild population of AHB which invaded their area.
  • They saw their own bees change rapidly and could not cope with the intense stinging behavior.
u s bee industry
U.S. Bee Industry
  • Beekeepers must exterminate wild bee nests to protect their managed bees from resource competition.
  • Where wild populations of AHB build up, there will be reduction in forage availability.
  • Frequent re-queening, loss of apiary locations, and resource competition will all add to the cost and labor of beekeeping operations
lyme s disease
Lyme’s Disease
  • Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
  • This bacterium is transmitted between mammals by the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis, which is also called the deer tick.
symptoms of lyme s disease
Symptoms of Lyme’s Disease
  • Rash, around the site of the tick bite that appears within 3 days to 3 weeks after the bite.
  • The rash expands into a bull's eye pattern.
  • Other symptoms include fever, flu-like symptoms, chills, headache, and extreme fatigue.
symptoms of lyme s disease1
Symptoms of Lyme’s Disease
  • These may appear weeks to months after the initial symptoms
    • Joints - arthritis in the knee, elbow and wrist
    • Nervous system - headache, stiff neck, facial paralysis
    • Heart - myocarditis, heart block
  • There are many cases each year that cannot be attributed to out of state travel.
  • Best protection is wearing insect repellent containing DEET concentration at 10-15%
  • Check self, children, and pets after being in tick habitat and remove promptly.
  • Venomous Spiders in Florida D.E. Short and J.L. Castner
  • Recognizing Florida’s Venomous Snakes Steve A. Johnson and Martin B. Main
  • Lyme Disease in Florida1 Cynthia C. Lord and C. Roxanne Rutledge Connelly2