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Mosquito season is in full swing

By Staff | Jul 14, 2015

With this year’s mosquito season in swing, local experts offered some tips for warding off the pesky bugs as the amount of rainfall and standing water is expected to increase in the coming months.

The official season in Southwest Florida runs May 1 through Oct. 31, or rainy season.

“Although it’s a yearlong fight, they’re just most plentiful during those months,” Jonathan Hornby, deputy director of the Lee County Mosquito Control District, said Tuesday.

The district conducted its first aerial adulticide in mid-June, as compared to July of last year.

“This year it started in June,” he said of the treatments. “The rain started later last year.”

Trucks are used in Cape Coral to keep the mosquito population under control. Since the season’s start, they have been used along the western portion of the city, the areas bordering the Spreader Canal.

“We’ve done lots of groundwork along the coastal areas,” Hornby said. “From Burnt Store Marina down and around to First Court – it’s always the salt marsh where they come from.”

Freshwater mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. If the amount of rainfall does not allow for water to stand for several days, specifically five days, the population is basically kept in check.

“A brood of mosquitos will come out,” he said of water left standing for too long.

Salt marsh or coastline mosquitoes lay their eggs in the ground, which hatch as the tide comes in.

A wet-dry cycle can pose a problem in fighting the salt marsh type.

“The fluctuations in water levels stimulate mosquito breeding,” Hornby said.

Rain levels were at a normal level at the start of the season, but for the past few weeks they have slowed down allowing things to dry up. He said the rains are expected to pick up again soon.

The district relies on an integrated pest management program, with surveillance and thresholds to determine when to treat. However, most requests for service involve the freshwater biters.

“A lot of our complaints are actually from people growing their own mosquitoes,” Hornby said.

The freshwater type tends to breed strictly around people’s homes.

“Around their home, make sure all their containers outside are empty,” he said.

Gutters should be cleared of debris and water, and screens should be intact without rips or cuts.

For those with bromeliads, there are products available to kill mosquito larvae.

“Mosquitos are attracted to dark clothing,” Hornby said.

When working or playing outside, use some form of mosquito repellent. More information on those products containing DEET, as well as natural repellents, can be found on the district’s website.

Freshwater mosquitoes are also most active between 4 p.m. and sunset.

For more information, visit the Lee County Mosquito Control District at: www.lcmcd.org.