Whether you love them or hate them, we have to put up with them sometimes! Insects (depending on your perspective) can be exquisitely beautiful or infinitely icky, and Arkansas has its share of interesting insects. Throughout the years Arkansas has seen a host of insects considered as either pests or protected species, and you’ll be the judge on which categories these creatures fit!
Subterranean termites infest wooden structures and now probably cause more economic injury than any other pest insect in Arkansas from attacking homes and other structures, leaving frustrated owners with costly pest-related damage.
Mosquito-borne malaria caused suffering along with social and economic disorder in Arkansas. The creation of Arkansas Territory in 1819 brought numerous visitors to Arkansas Post, where many inhabitants had malaria. The vector mosquito in Arkansas was extremely numerous, likely to be found in houses and other structures, and able to breed for a long period each year. In the early 1940s, a quarter to a third of the people in many Arkansas communities had malaria, and a large portion of the population was self-medicating with quinine or chill tonics.
6. Fire Ants
Imported red fire ants have been expanding their range northward in Arkansas since the 1950s. Campers and other outdoors enthusiasts will testify to the annoyance and physical irritation caused by disrupting a hill of fire ants.
The American burying beetle was declared endangered by the federal government in 1989. In Arkansas, this species occurs in five counties in the western part of the state, mostly on federal lands. The Japanese beetle, the most economically damaging pest of turf and landscape plantings in the eastern United States, arrived as larvae with nursery stock in the late 1990s and is now well established in the central and northwestern parts of the Natural State. Arkansas pine forests are home to southern pine beetles.
4. Cotton Boll Weevil
The boll weevil entered Arkansas from the south in 1906 and was generally distributed over the state’s cotton-growing region by the end of 1921, taxing the economy of the state’s Delta region. By 1949, it was costing Arkansas growers a loss of more than $91 million worth of cotton, plus an enormous sum for insecticide applications. In more recent times, the Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Program has nearly removed this pest from the state.
Skippers are the jet fighters of butterflies. Mostly small (with significant exceptions) and usually very fast fliers (with very few exceptions) they make up a significant portion of the butterfly fauna in Arkansas and just about any other state in the warm south.
The honeybee was designated the official state insect of Arkansas in 1973. The Africanized honey bee was first detected in the southwestern part of the state in 2005, and, within two years, it was found as far north as Baxter County, Arkansas.
There are over 150 butterfly species that live in Arkansas, though only about 130 or so complete their full life cycle in the state. The Diana butterflies are located in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas.
The Natural State is home to a diverse collection of insects, and scientists from around the world often light upon certain sections of Arkansas annually just to study the same interesting bugs and creepy crawlies that would have some running away in fear! As always, take caution when examining the many insects of Arkansas, as some of them can inflict a lot of pain (or worse) if threatened.