Mosquito Control ramps up treatment in Lee County
LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Mosquito breeding season is here, and for the next several months, mosquitoes will be laying their eggs all over Southwest Florida, in any standing water they can find.
Lee County has had an unusually dry year so far but high tides and thunderstorms are coming our way which means so are the mosquitoes. Lee County Mosquito Control is staying ahead of the game, ramping up treatment on the ground and from above.
“Our inspectors and biologists are out constantly looking for areas sometimes seven days a week,” said Eric Jackson with Lee County Mosquito Control.
“This time of year is obviously the peak season for mosquitoes, said Chief Pilot Thurbie Botterill. “Not only are they a nuisance but they carry diseases.”
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Shortly after, the eggs hatch into larvae.
“In one square foot of salt marsh, you find anywhere from 1,000 to 40,000 eggs, just in a square foot! We’ve got just under 60,000 acres of breeding mosquito salt marsh here,” said Jackson.
When high tides come in, salt marshes will flood, and when that happens, they become a breeding ground for billions of mosquitoes. The goal is to kill off as many larvae as possible before the insect completes its metamorphosis and turns into a flying mosquito, in search of a blood meal.
“We have that real short five to six-day window where if we can get material in there we can kill maybe as much as 100 percent of the larvae before they ever hatch out,” said Durrell Hagood, biologist 3 and larvicide supervisor at Lee County Mosquito Control.
Ground crews are treating smaller areas around the county that collect stagnant water. The largest mosquito breeding grounds are treated from above and this time of year, helicopter missions happen every day.
“We’ve gotta fly low for the material to hit the target. The way we do the turns is just an efficient way of spraying,” said Botterill.
Pilots are highly skilled and trained to be as noninvasive as possible.
“The turns they make – the ag turns, they’re flying in lines back and forth and they’ve gotta make that turn to get back online to get in. The quicker the turns they make, the faster they’ll be out of that area to hit the next one,” said Jackson.
While it’s impossible to kill all mosquitoes, Lee County Mosquito Control makes it their mission to limit the nuisance and protect public health.