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Mosquitoes are here, but there’s things you can do to keep their numbers down

By Staff | Jul 11, 2013

With the rainy season’s return, experts are closely monitoring mosquito levels in Lee County.

Shelly Redovan, deputy director of the Lee County Mosquito Control District, explained that the county and Cape Coral have mosquitoes year-round, with intensity increasing May through October.

“It definitely de–pends on water, which is going to be rain and tides,” she said.

Traditionally, people think of mosquitoes along the coastal zones, which is the saltwater species.

“We were able to treat those. We’re really not seeing saltwater mosquitoes in Cape Coral,” Redovan said Thursday. “Now, we’re seeing more of what you would consider freshwater mosquitoes.”

Prior to July 4, the district treated the northwest section of the city.

“We’ve treated parts of the Cape,” she said.

Since the holiday, the district has treated all four quadrants of the city.

“We’ve covered most of Cape Coral,” Redovan said.

“There’s probably still a few areas that we need to get to or get back to,” she added.

There are 54 “trap runs” in Lee County, with approximately seven in the Cape. They are three-mile runs where district trucks “sweep” for mosquitoes, collecting them to be brought back to the offices for review. Based on the findings, officials determine what areas in the county require treatment again.

“We look at the change in numbers,” Redovan said.

A run this week on El Dorado Parkway resulted in the collected of two adult mosquitoes.

“That’s what we would still consider an acceptable amount in that area,” she said.

A run on 24th Street in Lehigh Acres the same night came up with 183 adult mosquitoes.

“We’re hitting the areas based on whoever has the greatest needs,” Redovan said.

It takes the district about six days to cover the entire county.

“We really aren’t seeing anything unusual,” she said of this year’s runs.

Reports of “giant mosquitoes,” or gallinippers, may be unusual for Central Florida, but not for Lee County. Gallinippers are freshwater and lay their eggs on dry land to hatch by rainfall or flooding.

“That is a mosquito that we see every year,” Redovan said. “It’s not new to us.”

North Fort Myers, central Cape Coral and Gateway are areas that have reported gallinippers.

“We will get large numbers of those mosquitoes,” she said.

Redovan noted that total overall mosquito numbers are up from July 2012.

“Our numbers are high compared to last year,” she said.

The current numbers are matching those in 2011, 2008 and 2001.

“Weather patterns can be cyclical and mosquitoes can to,” Redovan said.

There are measures that people can take to help cut down on the bug population.

“There are mosquitoes that like to live around people, and they can give people a problem,” she said.

Look around the property for anything holding water, bird baths, plants and clogged gutters.

“Places where it holds water and places where there’s plant matter,” Redovan said.

Flush or clean out the water every three to five days.

“That way it keeps mosquitoes from hatching,” she said.

Putting a screen over the tops of a rain barrel keeps mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water.

Trim or remove vegetation from around doorways. The biggest challenge for mosquitoes is drying out and vegetation provides a place to hide. If they fly around during the day, it is likely humid outside.

“Keep bug repellent handy,” Redovan said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies several EPA-registered products on its Web site that provide sufficient repellent activity for mosquitoes. For information, visit: www.cdc.gov/.

“The golden standard is always going to be DEET,” she said.

Spray the repellent on the outside of clothing, but not under clothing.

“Just to kind of cover the areas exposed,” Redovan said.

Lee County residents are urged to contact the district if they feel they have a mosquito problem. The call will not be used to justify treatments, but can point out possible problems areas for further review.

“We do encourage people is they are having a problem with mosquitoes to not hesitate to call,” she said.

The Lee County Mosquito Control District is at (239) 694-2174.

Residents can also submit information online at: www.lcmcd.org/index.php.