mosquito control

Matti Parkkonen (Wikimedia Commons)

By Abe Aboraya

Florida travelers are catching serious mosquito-born diseases abroad, including dengue fever, chikungunya, malaria and Zika virus. Still, officials say the numbers are low and there’s no reason to panic. 

They’re quick, they’re noisy, and they’re out to suck your blood this summer.

As the weather heats up and Florida grows increasingly muggy, mosquitos are coming out in swarms.

Mosquitoes, it turns out, might be their own worst enemy.

In a six-month field trial launched in South Miami last year, Miami-Dade County teamed up with a Kentucky-based pest control company to release male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia. The bacteria is common in other insects, but when introduced in male Aedes aegypti, it makes them sterile.

Rainy season in South Florida means it's also mosquito season. And now there's a new weapon being added to the arsenal against the insects in the Florida Keys.

The next great insect repellent might come from a strain of bacteria that lives inside a common parasitic worm.

A study published Wednesday in Science Advances has found that a compound derived from these bacteria is three times more potent than DEET in repelling mosquitoes. More research must be done to demonstrate its safety, but this bacterial chemical could play an important role in the fight against mosquito-borne illness.

One human case of West Nile virus infection has been confirmed in Duval County, according to the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, which increases officials’ concern over transmission, according to a news release.  

Tiny, pesky and deadly, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are super at spreading disease, including dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus. Yet all over the world, scientists, nonprofits and biotech companies are raising hordes of this species to release into the wild.

Why is that?

For decades people have relied on industrial pesticides to beat back mosquito populations and limit the diseases they spread. But with continued use, some pesticides lose their effectiveness as the bugs build up resistance.

As the rainy season returns — along with the disease-carrying mosquitoes that reproduce in standing water — the public is getting another chance to comment on one proposed method for fighting mosquitoes.

The company that wants to hold the first U.S. trial of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys and Keys residents who oppose the trial don't agree on much.

But representatives from both sides said Thursday they are happy with the recent announcement that federal oversight of the proposed trial will be moved from the Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"We think it's a good thing," said Derric Nimmo, principal scientist at Oxitec, the company that has developed a genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Some Jacksonville residents concerned with the city’s mosquito spraying, are looking to educate the city out of its mosquito problem so spraying pesticides won’t be necessary.


The Flagler County Mosquito Control District is under scrutiny after a million dollar shortfall came to light.

Two Northeast Florida lawmakers are asking auditors to look into the Flagler County Mosquito Control district.

When Monroe County held a nonbinding referendum last year on whether  to allow the experimental release of genetically modified mosquitoes, most voters said yes.

This was as the mosquito-borne Zika crisis was exploding. The Food and Drug Administration had already started to clear the way for the field trial.

But residents of Key Haven--the proposed site of the mosquito control experiment--voted against it. And the company that breeds the mosquitoes started looking for another site.

A chemical used for mosquito control in South Florida has been the source of controversy in recent weeks, after a study showed it could be linked to developmental delays in infants.

While mainland South Florida ramps up its battle against the mosquito that can carry Zika, the Florida Keys has already begun the region's most intensive mosquito control operation.

This summer, scientists in California are releasing 20 million mosquitoes in an effort to shrink the population of mosquitoes that can carry diseases.

It sounds counterintuitive. But the plan is to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes, which will then mate with wild female mosquitoes. The eggs the females lay won't hatch, researchers say.

A federal judge has dismissed a request to stop aerial spraying of the pesticide Naled in Miami-Dade County, describing the plaintiffs' complaint as "poor" and recommending they get a lawyer before pursuing further legal action.

To address a growing population of black salt marsh mosquitoes, Miami-Dade County officials will conduct aerial mosquito spraying Thursday night beginning at 8 p.m.

The salt marsh mosquitoes don’t transmit the Zika virus but do bite humans and can spread heartworm to dogs. County officials say they’ve recently seen large numbers of the mosquitoes in their traps, and have received numerous complaints from callers.

Mosquito Control: Tips for the Rainy Season

Jun 1, 2017

Drain and cover. That's the message Miami-Dade County mosquito control specialists want the public to hear. 

Mosquitos can lay more than 100 eggs at a time, and they do so in standing water. Even a bottle cap of water is big enough.

Mosquitos can carry the West Nile virus and the Zika virus, among other things. 

Mosquito fish are 2.5-inch long native, freshwater fish that love munching on mosquito hatchlings.

On Saturday, March 27, Mosquito Control officials are giving out gambusia affinis to Hillsborough County residents for free.

WLRN

Last summer’s wave of local transmission of the Zika virus hasn’t yet bled into 2017 , but officials from Key West to West Palm Beach are gearing up for another round of mosquito control by creating new staff positions, adding more equipment and increasing outreach efforts.

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.

Despite a predicted slow down during the cooler winter season, the Zika virus continues plaguing Florida.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is saying the federal government is shortchanging the state when it comes to doling out money to fight the transmission of the Zika virus. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Katie Sanders of PolitiFact Florida to see if it's true.

Mosquito populations may be dropping with the temperature outside right now, and that means this is the right time to ramp up mosquito prevention efforts, says Dr. Uriel Kitron.

There are now more than 1,200 cases of the Zika virus in Florida, and about a fifth are locally contracted cases via Florida mosquitoes. So, health officials are reminding Floridians to continue taking preventive measures to combat the disease.

The first Florida trial of the Wolbachia bacteria to combat Aedes aegypti mosquitoes has been approved for the Florida Keys.

Aedes aegypti are the mosquitoes responsible for transmitting the Zika virus. They can also carry dengue fever and chikingunya.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services approved MosquitoMate's request for a trial of Wolbachia as a method of mosquito control in the Florida Keys.

Mosquito control and health officials are hoping mosquito prevention is on the minds of Floridians preparing for Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricanes can create perfect conditions for an explosion in mosquito populations.

Department of Health

More Zika-car rying mosquitoes have been captured in Miami Beach, this time in a new neighborhood.

The Florida Department of Agriculture said Saturday that it's the sixth time Zika-bearing mosquitoes have been captured in Miami Beach. It was the first capture of Zika-carrying mosquitoes in two weeks.

Zika can cause severe brain-related birth defects, including disastrously small heads, in pregnant women who become infected. The same mosquito species that spreads Zika also transmits dengue fever.

A measure signed into law by President Obama includes money to help combat the Zika virus. Florida is expected to be one of the areas to get a large amount of the funds. That’s in addition to the millions of dollars in state money Governor Rick Scott has already set aside in the Zika fight. But, questions now remain about when and how the funds will be distributed to help affected Floridians.

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