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  • Surveillance & Treatment

    Surveillance and Treatment

    Our southwest Florida paradise is such a nice place to live that new residents are tempted to believe that the landscape was always this way.  The truth is that since the 1950’s, southwest Florida has undergone many modifications to address the core issues of too much water and too many mosquitoes. Canals were installed to improve drainage, exotic palms were brought in to enrich our flora, and mangrove estuaries and freshwater swamps have been altered to change water flows and to provide gulf access. These environmental changes enhanced our quality of life, allowing our community to grow from just 6,488 people in 1950 to over 300,000 people today. Despite our earnest efforts, the original and less hospitable Florida lies dormant until the rains come. In the east, seasonally wet pine flatland areas that rarely saw humans have been turned into backyards, gardens and parking lots. Each rainy season we are all reminded of the true hidden nature of this landscape when swales fill with water, fields flood and mosquito populations explode.

    To the south, we are all fortunate to have Rookery Bay, an intact salt mangrove ecosystem. However, this crown jewel of southwest Florida is also an extremely productive nursery for the salt marsh mosquito. Each spring billions of mosquitoes hatch in the mangroves and fly into our communities.  We live in an environment previously reserved for mosquitoes and alligators.  The continued health, economic growth, prosperity, and comfort in our area is dependent on effective mosquito control.

    A question we often receive is, “Why can’t the Collier Mosquito Control District (CMCD) control larval mosquitoes in the water to reduce mosquito populations instead of aerial treatments that target adults?” The answer to this question is simple. When the CMCD good science demonstrates effectiveness and we have access to treat the area in question, we will always choose to treat with larvicides. However, larvicides only work if you can physically access the larval mosquitoes.

    Most mosquitoes are actually produced on a patchwork of federal, state, county lands that are protected wetlands the CMCD is not allowed to treat. The uncomfortable reality is that some mosquitoes can travel up to 40 miles a night making nearly everyone in the county susceptible to mosquitoes produced far away.

    While the Zika virus has brought to attention the Aedes aegypti and albopictus mosquitoes, there are more than a half dozen disease carrying mosquitoes that bring the risk of Malaria, West Nile Virus, and Chickengunya to our community. If not controlled through aerial treatments, Florida would see rising rates of several diseases.

    Could mosquito control be accomplished at a neighborhood level? While each of us should always seek ways to eliminate mosquito production around our homes, a single unmaintained pool will produce millions of mosquitoes. Preserved mangroves far away will produce even more. Reducing mosquitoes around your own homes will certainly help, but will not eliminate the threat caused by the habitats that make our community so unique.

    Finally, some have asked why water levels are not managed lower or more drainage projects undertaken to reduce mosquito populations. Unfortunately, draining more land or managing water tables at a lower level comes with its own set of very serious environmental and legal repercussions. Lowering the groundwater level greatly raises the risk of forest fires, permanent alterations to the ecosystem and saltwater intrusion into the aquifer.  Regulations prevent most modifications to wetland systems because we live in a sensitive environment that must be delicately balanced between many competing interests.

    Controlling mosquitoes in our unique environment is an incredibly complex issue. Faced with the unavoidable facts that: 1) at 401 square miles, our landscape is vast and almost every inch can produce mosquitoes 2) there are many protected wetlands 3) community participation is only partially effective and 4) the water table must be maintained at a high level, targeting adult mosquitoes with aerial treatments is the only realistic option to protect Collier County residents.  This complex reality was acknowledge when the District was formed 50 years ago and remains just as true today.

    The CMCD continuously tracks mosquito activity in the community utilizing various methods of surveillance. The team of professionals at the District carefully considers the best course of action on a daily basis. Six full-time inspectors collect various adult mosquito traps and perform landing rate counts on a daily basis during the mosquito season. Additionally, inspectors collect larval samples, data from rain gauges, and perform site inspections on properties within the District boundaries. When high populations of larvae or mosquitoes are detected or reported by local residents, CMCD utilizes trucks, airplanes and/or helicopters to treat large areas with control materials safely, quickly, and efficiently. 

    Click on any link below to learn more about the CMCD Operations.

    Larval Control

    Adult Control

    Control Materials

    Florida Resident’s Guide to Mosquito Control ENY-753

     

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