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NOLA Insects: The Good, the Bad and the Bugly!

“If you wonder what bugs are out at this time of year, the answer is a lot of different types,” says Zack Lemann, Manager of Animal and Visitor Programs at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.

Insects are a part of life in South Louisiana where it’s hot and humid most of the year, so here is a closer look at the creepy crawlers you’re most likely to see this summer.

“You can find paper wasps, orchard spiders, dragonflies, milk-weed leaf beetles, and even assassin bugs,” says Lemann. Recently, people have complained about the swarming termites, but these are not the ones that will destroy your home. The ones you see flying around at night are generally harmless, but if they start to colonize, then you have a problem.

“Lubber grasshoppers aren’t usually common in urban environments, they like being out in the country particularly in bayous or wooded areas, typically there’s not just one, there’s a lot of them and they have a voracious appetite. They eat lots of different kinds of plants and they eat a lot of leaves.”  If you live in a rural area, you’ve probably seen lubber grasshoppers. They are usually considered pests around the home because they will eat your plants.

“Bug moth caterpillars are stinging caterpillars and, unfortunately, the populations can get to be very intense. Come May, the caterpillars will pupate in the soil and we don’t see any adult moths until December. “

Plenty of insects we see during the summer are harmless to our bodies, plants and homes, in fact, they’re quite beautiful.

The orchard spider is an example of a harmless insect that you may find in weeded areas. “This is a really common spider in gardens all around New Orleans… They make an orb web, you know like Charlotte’s web, the typical circular web with spokes coming out.”

The monarch butterfly is another common insect that people can appreciate for its beauty. “A lot of people plant flowers which attract butterflies and this is one of our more common ones even in the middle of the city. The catch-22 with them is that you have to like caterpillars because you don’t get one without the other,” says Lemann.

For more information about the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium visit:  http://www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/insectarium