It’s February in Florida and as the weather gets warmer we Floridians start to turn our attention to the thousands of outdoor activities our beautiful state has to offer. Florida is not just known for its natural beauty, it is also known for it abundance of mosquitoes. With the mosquito transmitted Zika virus making headline news and the tell tale itchy red bites popping up on our unprotected skin you may be wondering what you can do to protect your family in the coming months. Millions of dollars are spent in Florida every year to combat mosquitoes. Municipalities will often spray for mosquitoes and use larvacides in wetland areas to control the pests. You can make a big difference in the effort to combat the blood-sucking parasites and prevent disease transmission by following the five d’s of mosquito control and prevention.
- Dump- Mosquitos spend the beginning of their lives developing in aquatic environments and they don’t mind small spaces. By periodically dumping standing water you can prevent them from growing into adults that feed on you. Standing water in old tires, plant containers, buckets and any other containers with standing water all provide a great environment for many species of mosquitoes to develop. By being vigilant in dumping these containers you are doing a lot to control mosquito populations.
- Drain– Kiddy pools, water troughs, pet water dishes and birdbaths all provide an ideal environment for mosquito larva to grow. You can prevent this by regularly draining and refilling these water sources.
- Dress– When you are dressing to go outdoors in the warmer months in Florida prepare for mosquitoes. Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible to prevent bites. Long pants and long sleeve shirts made out of lighter materials like linen are ideal in our hot summer climate when venturing into the great outdoors. Also consider hats with mosquito netting
- DEET- Use an insect repellent that lists DEET or alternatively eucalyptus oil to prevent mosquito bites. DEET is proven to be the most effective repellent and safe for human use. Bug zappers, candles and ultra- sonic devices are not effective mosquito control measures. Save your money and invest in proven solutions like DEET based insect repellents.
- Dusk/Dawn- Mosquitoes are most active during the early morning and evening hours. Try to stay indoors during these time periods and if that is not possible make sure you are dressed to prevent mosquito bites and using DEET based insect repellent.
For more information on mosquitoes in Florida call you county UF|IFAS Extension Office or county health department and check out these in-depth articles on the subject:
Do you have a love for the outdoors? Would you like to share your passion for the environment with the next generation of Florida citizens? If so, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer. Florida 4-H offers a range of opportunities for volunteers to teach youth about natural resources, shooting sports, and water conservation (just to name a few). For more information about becoming a 4-H volunteer, visit your local UF IFAS County Extension office or http://florida4h.org/volunteers.