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'Explosion' of Salt Marsh Mosquitoes Swarms Collier County

A female Ochlerotatus notoscriptus mosquito feeding on a human arm.
Photo: JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Creative Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A brood of salt marsh mosquitoes borne from high tides along Southwest Florida’s coastal mangroves descended on Collier County this week, unleashing a “horrendous” torrent of insects that experts say is the worst they’ve seen in a decade.

High winds contributed to spreading the pestilential bugs 30 to 40 miles inland. The Collier County Mosquito Control District recevied reports of clouds of the pests a dozen miles off shore.

The salt marsh mosquito species doesn't transmit the Zika virus, but can pose a threat to pets as a vector of dog heartworm. The mosquito eggs hatched in areas the district says it cannot and does not regularly spray to control the bugs.

Collier County Mosquito Control District Executive Director Patrick P. Linn joins the show to explain the combination of tides, winds, and weather that resulted in the surge of salt marsh mosquitoes, what the district can and cannot do in response, and what it portends for the summer months ahead.

Also joining the program is  Neil Wilkinson, an FGCU instructor in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences who has worked with mosquito education outreach programs in Lee County schools, to discuss the nearly 50 mosquito species in South Florida, diseases like Zika and dengue fever these pests can spread, and other big projects related to mosquito research in Florida.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.