CLAY COUNTY – Mosquito control contractors spray infested areas and monitor traps to protect residents from a nuisance the size of a pin.
It’s no secret some mosquitoes are dangerous. They can carry West Nile Virus, Yellow fever, Zika and other diseases. Mosquito Control Services of Florida Manager and Entomologist Sarah McInnis said trapping served as a first line of defense before mosquitoes reach the human population.
While Hurricane Dorian didn’t bring record-setting rainfall to the county, McInnis said there was increased surveillance in storm surge zones such as Black Creek.
“As soon as we established Hurricane Dorian was no longer a threat to our staff and families, we were able to have boots on the ground and spray trucks out very quickly,” McInnis said. “Fortunately, the storm did not produce as much rainfall as anticipated, but to be proactive we have elevated our post-storm operations.”
They use New Jersey traps, a light-based trap to capture mosquitoes, and Gravid traps, which capture disease-carrying species in an environment of standing water. Minnows are sometimes introduced to bodies of water to feed on mosquitoes.
The Gravid traps are tested weekly and the locations of the traps change. The laws for spraying with a truck are strict, McInnis said, and dictated by service requests or mosquitoes caught in traps. The trucks spray at night with Environmental Protection Agency-approved chemicals that only harm mosquitoes.
“There’s a lot of work being done in the daytime to figure out where we’re going to go and when,” McInnis said. “It’s not just the spray truck that people see. There’s a lot of science behind it.”
McInnis said using repellent, repairing damaged screen doors and dumping standing water were the best ways for residents to fend off mosquitoes.
“Obviously, (mosquitoes) are dangerous,” McInnis said. “Fortunately, where we live, as long as you’re protecting yourself and doing the ‘tip and toss,’ when you have standing water in your yard, you’re pretty much going to be OK.”