A Sad Mystery: Dying Green Anoles In Gainesville

At the risk of developing the reputation of being the harbinger of bad news, I’m here to report what seems to be an epidemic of sorts afflicting the green anoles in Gainesville, FL. In the last two years in this town, veteran AA correspondent Thom Sanger and I have noticed a number of very sickly and dead Anolis carolinensis. Here are some photos from last summer:

A sickly green anole that died the next morning. Photo by Thom Sanger.

A sickly green anole that died the next morning. Photo by Thom Sanger.


We saw these animals in the later summer months, and Thom wondered if they might have died from ingesting insects that had been contaminated with insecticides sprayed to control mosquitoes. But a few days ago, my field assistant Jon Suh saw another mysteriously dead green anole, and it’s too early in the year for it to be explained by pesticide. This was in my fieldsite in the UF campus, where I haven’t seen any cats. The lizard also didn’t appear to have any botflies or other large parasites on it (though I’m not sure what that blue spot is…).


It’s worth noting that we have seen no dead brown anoles in the same sites, so it appears that the cause of these lizards’ demise is species specific. Also, we haven’t noticed any dead lizards in the state parks just outside the city, so it seems to be specific to urban areas. Does anyone have any ideas about what might be afflicting these lizards?

11 thoughts on “A Sad Mystery: Dying Green Anoles In Gainesville

  1. I have seen animals that look like those in DR, the cause is probably for some kind of fly larvae that is damaging internally, this usually puts thin and lethargic the animals so they stop eating. what happens here is that also affects some species (giant Anolis and some small species) not all.

    You’ve captured some ?? if not it would be good to capture and sacrifice to make a revicion in the abdominal cavity or the region of the trachea which is where these larvae are normally housed. it would be good see that they have inside and also check the organs, the organs suffer damage when something happens to the individual.

    Thanks for sharing this

  2. One of the strangest observations for me is that the green anoles in Paynes Prairie and San Felasco State Parks are healthy and robust. Just a few miles away from where those photos were taken the green anoles are abundant and energetic without obvious signs of stress.

    Could there also be affect of urbanization on these lizards? I don’t know, but I will look for evidence of parasites the next time we find a sickly lizard. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. I live in Jacksonville in northeast FL, on fairly quiet road very close to a number of major streets and intersections, shopping areas, etc. The green anoles in my yard are currently looking normal and healthy. I’m seeing lots more brown anoles which is typical in my yard, but I’ve seen probably a half dozen or so green anoles so far this year.

  4. I live in Bushnell fl. And I have found several anoles that seem to have this parasite I’ve caught one and attempted to keep it alive to see if maybe this is a botfly, But the little guy died the next day and I did not have the heart to cut in to it. But I have noticed they all seem to be around the same age. And it is not only the green anoles that are infected. We have fence lizards that seem to have them on their under side as well. Has any one done an official study on this.

  5. I came across one one dead green Anole and one brown that appeared to have a brown spot on its chest yesterday in North Texas. The one still living appeared to be puffing out his chest as if he was having trouble breathing. I had not seen the Anoles in my garden for a while, and now I seem to be seeing sick and dead ones. Any explanations?

  6. Did anyone figure anything out? I was wondering about making the connection to mosquito spraying truck because my anoles in my yard were looking healthy until the truck started up this year and now they are appearing sickly and spotted and some are oozing from the ears..

  7. I live in Rockwall Texas and have had as many as 30 Anoles in my yard and have even brought a few in during the winter and fed them through April. About 3 weeks ago I found one dead for no apparent reason. I soon began to see them with black spots on them and at least a weak later the lizards were all dead. I have lost all of them and I’m not sure why. The pictures I have seen seam to point to bots flys.

  8. Hi, I live in Spring, Texas, just north of Houston. Every year we have at least 5 to 7 grn anoles. Last summer we had 10 or more green anoles in our front yard. Then the mosquito spraying started with the Zika scare. Next thing I notice dead grn anoles. This spring we saw 1 baby and 2 adults. But again mosquito sprayers came around and now those are gone too! I’m tempted to buy and set free some more but not sure if this would introduce parasites from pet store? I am very concerned about what these trucks are spraying and killing…

  9. I live in Louisiana. We have green and brown Anoles everywhere! They are healthy and thrive here. BUT…….. I will say, they WILL ONLY survive if people stop using pesticides in their gardens! People do not realize the harm they cause to EVERYTHING. ALL insects, reptiles, birds, pets, children etc. are ALL effected by pesticides!! If you treat your yard/garden with ANY chemicals, then a bug gets infected as a lizard eats bugs, birds and pets eat lizards, pets eat birds/bugs/lizards etc. It’s all one big chain reaction. It’s very sad that people spend all that money on harmful toxic wastes for the environment. All humans do is contribute to plant/human/ocean sea life /animal extinction…

  10. I live in Arlington Texas and see 5-7
    Of these cases every year. Strangely I see it more near the end of summer and into the fall. As late as November. Bot fly is my guess. Wish there was a way to keep them away from my property. Very sad to see! I like having them around.

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