Tuscon’s Bug Epidemic


Marley Gandee, contributor

From beetles falling from the sky and randomly finding beetles everywhere, all Tucsonans have definitely seen the beetle invasion. Walking down the street… beetle, eating dinner… beetle, brushing your teeth… beetle. They are honestly just everywhere, and they are not scared of the human race. They appear to be falling from the sky, but that seems impossible. There are a couple reasons for the beetle epidemic, the main reason being for food. Beetles feed off of smaller insects that are attracted by the rain, and we have definitely had a lot of that this year. Then the beetles follow their main food source, and boom, they end up in Tucson, Arizona. Another reason that the beetles are coming in so many numbers is that it is beetle mating season. The females will feed themselves well before mating, and because of all the extra food that Tucson has to provide this year, this is a very good place for them to mate. So, the food attracts extra females, and where there are more females, there are more males.

The mosquitoes are also everywhere, which is annoying, but wouldn’t be a problem in itself, except for the concern of the West Nile Virus. Arizona reached and broke its season high for cases, and has reported five deaths in the state and 132 diagnosed cases, while Pima County has diagnosed one case, and has one more that is suspected. Last year there were eleven cases and two deaths, so this year is definitely a huge incline. In other locations of the United States, higher levels of cases can be seen as well. Only around 20% of those who contract this virus will have symptoms, just like those of Covid-19, meaning there are most likely cases that are not being reported or diagnosed. Luckily for us, less that one percent of people who have the virus will have the neuro-invasive disease as well, which often times results in having to be hospitalized, and have lasting effects, such as disability and brain damage.

Another insect that can be seen around the desert are the butterflies, not only in the flowers and beauty of the desert, but also flying at people, not being the sweet, fragile animals that they seem to be. This can be annoying, but it is a good sign in the butterfly population. In the forty years before this monsoon season, Tucson was seeing a one to two percent decline each year, but this year an eighty percent incline! Due to the weather this year, there has been an increase of food for caterpillars, meaning that the butterflies also increase too, as well as an uprising in the moths. This is a very good sign for the butterflies, because if this continues, the butterfly population will continue to enhance the beauty of our earth for years to come.

Although it is definitely annoying, (and in some cases scary), the bugs are a sign of getting the water Tucson has been needing for many years. The source behind all of the increases in insects is the record breaking monsoon season that Tucson has had, then everything connects together to feed other species and make our home a more beautiful place. Soon, we will even see more bats, birds and insects feeding on the bugs, making the time we spent in agony all worth it.