Prepare Now for Southwest Florida’s Mosquitoes by Patrick Linn, MS, MSHAPI Executive Director, Collier Mosquito Control District
I’m am sure you’ve heard some of these common Southwest Florida comments: “Quick, shut the door to keep the mosquitoes out!” “Who brought the repellent?” “Are these wiggly tadpoles in my dog’s water dish?” If you or others have uttered these words, here are a few simple steps to take – and suggestions for new habits – as we ramp up for mosquito season.
First, please keep in mind that not only are mosquitoes a nuisance, their bites can deliver diseases including Dengue fever, Chikungunya, and West Nile virus. In 2021, Collier County’s health department reported four human cases of the virus. The mosquito that can transmit West Nile virus is present year-round in Collier County, but is most prevalent during the warmer, rainy months. Another type of mosquito that can transmit Dengue fever, yellow fever, Zika, and Chikungunya is present and active year-round in our area. In all, 50 different mosquito species have been identified here.
Residents can develop one easy habit to practice all year which could help reduce the number of mosquitoes around their home: check weekly for any source of standing – stagnant – water. That standing water is an inviting spot for a mosquito to lay her eggs, which will develop into flying, biting adults within seven days. And I do mean anything that holds water; just one bottlecap of water can produce about 100 mosquito larvae.
What to do: cover containers to prevent water collection; empty and refill birdbaths and pet water bowls weekly; and reduce horticultural debris around your home. Dead leaves can hold standing water and shady, debris-filled areas provide the perfect hunkering-down environment for mosquitoes during the heat of day. Hint: they don’t like sunlight. That’s why you’ll see them hovering under your eaves and around doorways during the day.
Do you have beautiful bromeliads in your landscape? They provide an excellent place for mosquito larvae to grow. The news is not all bad – you can take simple steps to keep them mosquito free!
Check the tips on our website at https://cmcd.org/science/bromeliads-mosquitoes/ Lastly, it’s always a good habit to carry mosquito repellent with you and apply it often. And the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends applying repellent after sunscreen.
Which repellent should you use? It’s a matter of personal choice, but the CDC suggests using one that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency that features one of the following active ingredients, and to follow the label instructions:
• Oil of lemon eucalyptus
• Para-menthane-diol (also referred to as PMD)
Want to know more about the science behind mosquito control? Looking for someone to speak to your group’s next meeting? Visit the District’s website at cmcd.org or call 239.436.1000.
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