Get the Buzz!
by Jody Steele
Living in a sub-tropical climate has its benefits and its drawbacks. So along with amazing sunsets, a profusion of flowering foliage, and a mild Winter weather there are a few annoying critters around. It appears there are about 4000 species of mosquitoes with 100 types being a problem. In Monroe County, three of these buzzers can be a nuisance and even cause health problems. The good news is the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has us covered, but they need our support.
Watch Out For
The three most common mosquitoes in our area are the Black Salt Marsh, the Aedes aegypti, and the Southern House Mosquito. The Salt Marsh is the biter that comes in with wind from the Everglades and is the most bothersome at Ocean Reef. The Aedes aegypti has recently been the source of an outbreak of Dengue Fever in Key Largo. Lastly, the brown Southern House mosquito is most active between dusk to dawn.
Our Control System
The Mosquito Control District utilizes three methods to protect us from these pests. Source Reduction goes after the breeding areas with inspectors looking for any standing water in pots, trashcans, or other containers. Chad Huff, Public Education/Information Manager explained that mosquitoes lay 100’s of eggs in one ounce of water. He actually relayed that inspectors have found upside down bottle caps with eggs. Larval Control targets immature mosquitoes with an environmentally safe bacterium that is applied by air or ground. The third approach is Adult Control and is managed by inspectors that count landing rates in traps and stations.
How To Help
We need to take basic precautions to help the Mosquito Control District. The most important measure it to keep Ocean Reef free of containers that collect water. It only takes five days for mosquitoes to hatch in that tiny bit of water. So on your summer adventures outdoors, be aware and notify managers and gardeners working outside to be on alert. Wearing protective clothing and applying insect repellant is also highly recommended.
I did investigate the worth of the mosquito to see if they had any redeeming qualities. It is significant that mosquitos are a food for fish and birds here in the Keys and they also do a service of pollinating flowers and plants. Of course, we must go after the problematic species.
Lastly, Members need to contact Mosquito Control when they see or hear the buzzing mosquitoes by doing an online service request for treatment on keysmosquito.org or call 305-292-7190 to speak to a representative. Staying vigilant and assisting the District is part of our responsibility and certainly easy to accomplish.