Guest column | Dennis Moore

Forget hype; avoid mosquitoes with common sense

Tropical Storm Andrea delivered a large amount of rain recently and that was followed by relentless daily rains in June and early July. It will undoubtedly produce a nice crop of mosquitoes and Pasco County Mosquito Control District will be actively inspecting and treating the larvae found in the standing water.

There's no need to cancel your summer vacation or warn your friends and family to stay away from Florida even with the recent notoriety from headlines about tales of Vampire mosquitoes, Frankenskeeters, or mutants invading Florida and terrorizing the residents with painful bites that feel like stabbing swords.

The media hype stemmed from a rather innocuous article co-authored by a University of Florida professor and his student in October 2012. They wrote an article for UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences "Featured Creatures" to raise public awareness about various pests and other topics. This article somehow generated countless hyped articles, many containing poor information.

The mosquito supposedly invading Florida, Psorophoraciliata, also know as feather-legged gallinipper, is actually native. These insects were first documented in Florida in the 1920s and can be found in most of the southern and eastern portions of the U.S.

The gallinipper is so named because myths in folk lore state they can supposedly drink a gallon of blood with just one bite. They are one of the biggest blood-feeding mosquitoes in the U.S., but are closer to the size of a dime, rather than a quarter as reported. On the good side, these bloodsuckers are rather noticeable and very clumsy, making it fairly easy to give a fatal swat as they attempt to land and take a bite. The other good news is they don't transmit harmful viruses to humans.

The staff at Pasco County Mosquito Control District has been working to keep mosquitoes at bay as the season swings into high gear. More than 42 mosquito species have been documented in Pasco County, some more capable of transmitting disease than others. Although we do monitor and control the nuisance species, our greater focus is on the species that can potentially transmit disease.

Residents can do their part. They should take a good look around their property and remove anything that could hold water, since it will very likely produce mosquitoes if left in place. Mosquitoes can lay eggs and grow in water from rain collected in objects as small as a bottle cap.

That means discarding old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items not being used. Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls at least weekly. Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water. Maintain proper pool chemistry in swimming pools and empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

Cover skin with clothing, use mosquito repellent and cover doors and windows with screens – or repair broken screens – to keep mosquitoes out.

If you're experiencing mosquito problems call the district at (727) 376-4568 and visit www.pascomosquito.org for more information.

Dennis Moore is the director of the Pasco County Mosquito Control District.

Forget hype; avoid mosquitoes with common sense 07/13/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 12, 2013 3:55pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...