BY JACK SHORT - Three straight days of rain may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on a person’s perspective, but to the many varieties of mosquitos that make Boca Grande their home, there’s only one way to look at it: this rainfall is a windfall.
Mosquitos lay eggs in standing water and more rain, especially all at once, means more places to lay eggs.
Fortunately, Lee County Mosquito Control is on top of it, sometimes literally.
They attack mosquitos by air and by land using microbial pesticides, organophosphates and pyrethroids. The organophosphate Naled and pyrethroids are used to kill adult mosquitos and are applied using ultra low volume mists from trucks and helicopters.
Shelley Redovan, Deputy Director of Lee County Mosquito Control and spokesperson for the organization, said there is an extremely complicated decision tree that governs when either of these chemicals are used.
“There are specific plans for specific areas, freshwater or saltwater, the time of year – everything is based on scientific surveys,” Redovan said. “There is no schedule for their use.”
Trucks collect water samples nightly to count and differentiate among different mosquito species as some kinds, the culex genus for example, can carry the flaviviruses, which include West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis and eastern equine encephalitis viruses. Helicopters are used to collect samples in areas that are too difficult to reach such as some mangrove forests, according to Redovan.
“We monitor the samples for changes in number and type of the larva,” Redovan said.
Because BTI, or bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, is considered safe and does not have significant adverse effects on non-target organisms, its use is governed by simpler circumstances – basically, when it’s needed.
“We inspect the water daily,” said Clyde Nabers of Lee County Mosquito Control. “When we see larvae, we treat.”
BTI is a bacterium that produces a chemical toxic that kills mosquito larvae. Because it can be difficult to get it down through thick, subtropical canopies to water on the ground with a mist, it is spread via bits of corn cob.
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