County to resume mosquito trapping

Did Hurricane Dorian increase the mosquito population or blow some of it away? It’s too soon to tell.

At the Sept. 5 meeting of the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners, Mitch Smeykal, the county’s mosquito control officer, said they will put out mosquito traps. Clarke, the spraying contractor, will start spraying again next week if the traps indicate spraying is needed. Spraying was suspended due to Hurricane Dorian.

Mr. Smeykal said they spray on Friday nights. The truck can cover about 85 miles in one trip, spraying on both sides of the roadway each trip. If there is low humidity, the drift can go farther. They do not spray when it is raining.

Night spraying kills the adult mosquitoes without harming bees, butterflies and other pollinators, he said.

He said the mosquito adulticide drifts for about 25 to 30 feet. Those whose homes are farther back on their property might want to do additional mosquito control, he explained.

Mr. Smeykal said there are commercial mosquito foggers that can be used in your yard. He advised bringing pets indoors when fogging the yard.

For mosquito larvae, “dunks” are available to put in ponds and ditches. This form of mosquito control is safe for fish, wildlife and livestock, he said.

Mosquito spraying is based not only on the counts of mosquitoes found in the traps but also on the species of mosquitoes. “This is Florida. We are always going to have mosquitoes. We have to figure out which species we have. We want to target the mosquitoes that carry disease,” he explained.

After Hurricane Irma, there was an increase in the mosquito population, Mr. Smeykal said. Hurricane Dorian might also result in an increase, but that is not necessarily the case.

He said mosquito eggs can be dormant in pasture grass for up to five years, and come to life when there is sufficient rain.

Residents can help reduce mosquito populations around their homes.
• Remove or empty standing water in old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles or other places where mosquitoes might breed.
• Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use. If unused, drain swimming pools and keep dry.
• Change water weekly in bird baths, plant saucers and trays.
• Store boats covered or upside down.
• Water bowls used by pets should be emptied and refilled daily.
• Fill holes around home that may retain water.
• Keep gutters around home in good repair to avoid water buildup.
• Keep weeds and grass cut short, as adult mosquitoes look for shady places to rest during hot daylight hours.
• Be sure screens in homes are intact and tight-fitting to prevent entry of insects.

To report high concentrations of mosquito, residents can call the Clarke Mosquito Hotline at 800-203-6485.

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