SPRING HILL — It's hard to beat a mosquito puppet for attracting the attention of elementary school children.
That is one of the props Rene Snow used during a recent visit to Westside Elementary School. Snow, 49, a Hernando County Mosquito Control coordinator/surveillance technologist, wants to help people identify backyard mosquito breeding spots.
Snow said she wants to get the word out because there are so many different mosquito species, and they breed in so many places. People can control the insects in their yards by eliminating standing water.
When mosquito season warms up, Snow — one of the three workers who controls mosquito populations in Hernando — sometimes visits homeowners to help them find breeding grounds.
"If mosquitoes are grown by the residents," Snow said, "the spray won't help. People have to make sure they don't have standing water around."
When she visits homes, Snow said children sometimes follow her around, so it seemed like a good idea to talk to kids. They are likely to tell their parents to dump standing water. She hopes they will do the same when they are older.
Some of the mosquitoes that thrive in unmonitored yards pretty much belong to the owners and their neighbors, Snow said. "These mosquitoes don't fly too far." So keeping an eye on possible breeding spots benefits the local area.
Snow began the school education program by targeting second- and third-graders. They loved the puppet and video snippets in Snow's presentation. She also shows a big picture of a yard and home and points out examples of mosquito breeding places.
"I did end up doing a little slide show that shows larvae squiggling out of the egg," she said. Other clips showed a mosquito boring into someone's skin and another laying eggs, providing plenty of the "eeeewwww" factor.
She took bottled specimens, including live mosquitoes, dead mosquitoes and mosquito larvae. She also had Gambusia, a mosquito larvae-munching fish.
Snow would like to expand her school presentations beyond Westside Elementary. The best time to call her would be later in the fall when mosquito season is waning. She can be reached at 540-6554.