Mosquito populations proceed to thrive within the SWFL

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Karl Schneider

| Naples Daily News
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Repellants and remedies for mosquito bites

Repellants and remedies for mosquito bites

Though mosquitos never really take a break in southwest Florida, the transition into the dry season usually means the end of the top little bugger populations.

This year, however, the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Eta left water in the entire region – a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“Typically late April through October is the peak time when the mosquitoes are more active,” said Eric Jackson of the Lee County Mosquito Control District. “October will be drier and shorter, so the mosquitoes will have less time to grow. ”

However, water has been relentless, especially in the eastern parts of Lee, he said. The canals on Buckingham Road remain full and the cow pastures are still covered with water. Both are the best breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Last week, Jackson said the district was out every day to check for the larvae.

Robin King said many reports of mosquitos had also come in in the week after Eta.

“About five days after (Eta) we saw people filing reports on our website,” she said. “We even have a treatment mission ending tonight.”

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In both districts, there are several ways to find out where large mosquito populations are, including traps that have been set in the counties.

Jackson mentioned a technique called landing guessing, where an inspector goes into a shady area and tries to stir up mosquitos in the vegetation. The inspector then stops for about a minute and counts how many mosquitoes land on them.

“You might have 1 or 2 mosquitos in one place and that’s pretty good for a salt marsh,” he said. “But if there are 300 in the same area, then there is a problem.”

The districts use both trucks and planes to control the mosquitoes. This week, Collier’s district had its trucks driven through Golden Gate Estates containing a naturally-derived larvicide called BTI.

“BTI will attack mosquito larvae and blackfly larvae in the water,” King said. “It is used in organic farming and does not affect any other organism.”

On Thursday morning, Jackson said Lee’s district was preparing two planes to cover the Buckingham and Lehigh area for adult deployment. The district won’t necessarily be sending trucks or airplanes for every call, but once the data gathered shows a growing population, it will take action.

“We’re out there working around the clock,” he said.

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Jackson and King advise residents to do their best to remove stagnant water in planters, trash cans, and other areas, and to keep mosquitos from spreading.

King also advised trying to limit walking outside during high feeding times, dawn and dusk, and wear pants and long sleeves when possible.

Mosquitoes can spread disease even in the cooler, drier months of southwest Florida, and people should use repellants.

King said the Centers for Disease Control and Environmental Protection agency recommended repellants on their agencies’ websites. She said that something works best with DEET.

“People need to protect themselves and do their part to drain water,” she said.

Karl Schneider is an environmental reporter. Send tips and comments to kschneider@gannett.com. Follow on Twitter @karlstartswithk

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