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Why Orange County Won't Use Aerial Spraying To Fight Zika

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Zika virus is spread primarily by mosquitoes.

Orange County will refrain from aerial spraying of the insecticide naled to fight Zika, even if there is local transmission.

Miami residents have protested the use of naled because of health and environmental concerns. The insecticide has been used for decades in the U.S., but was banned in the European Union in 2012. The chemical made headlines when millions of bees died in South Carolina when the chemical was sprayed during the day because of Zika fears.

Naled has long been known to be a killer of bees and other insects beyond just mosquitoes, said Kelly Deutsch, with Orange County Mosquito Control. That’s one reason why aerial spraying is not in the Orange County Zika response plan.

“In my opinion, it is not the most appropriate treatment for the control of daytime biting mosquitoes,” Deutsch said.

Orange County does have a contract for aerial spraying, but it would only be used to combat other mosquitoes that are active at night. Aerial spraying, if it were to happen, would come late in the evening, after most bees have returned back to their hives.  The last time the county used aerial spraying was after a tropical storm in 2010.

“We have to have traps that have three times the amount of mosquitoes we normally have in order to justify the treatments,” Deutsch said. “It’s not just like, oh, let’s call the plane up today. We actually have to do a bunch of trapping to have justification to do that.”

Abe Aboraya is a reporter with WMFE in Orlando. WMFE is part of Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.