Why We Need to Control Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes carry diseases that are transmittable to humans, including:
Chikungunya is a virus that can be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Transmission to humans may occur when infected female mosquitoes attempt to feed on a human host. The primary species of mosquitoes that transmit the virus are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to 14 days after infection. This may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains and a characteristic skin rash. Dengue is spread by several species of mosquito of the Aedes type, principally Aedes aegypti. Good prevention practices include reducing mosquito habitat and limiting exposure to bites.
St. Louis Encephalitis
St. Louis encephalitis can affect the central nervous system and cause severe complications, even death. Mosquitoes can transmit the virus to animals and humans after feeding on infected birds. Just like West Nile virus, there is no vaccine to prevent St. Louis encephalitis.
West Nile Virus
West Nile virus has the potential to infect horses and humans. Mosquitoes obtain the virus from feeding on infected birds. People infected with the West Nile virus can experience mild to severe flu-like symptoms. While usually mild, the symptoms can cause death in severe cases. There is no vaccine to prevent West Nile virus.
Zika is a virus much like the Chikungunya and Dengue viruses. It can be transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito. Virus transmission can occur when an infected female mosquito feeds on a human host.
Did You Know?
Only female mosquitoes bite for blood to provide protein for egg formation. Male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar and juices.
How To Protect Yourself
Pinellas County Mosquito Control encourages you to remember the three D’s to protect yourself and your family:
Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing that covers most of your skin, especially if you have to be out when mosquitoes are active. Long sleeves and pants are the best options.
Choose a mosquito repellent that has been registered, approved and recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Choose a repellent with DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
- Read the directions on the label carefully before applying.
- Apply repellent sparingly, only to exposed skin.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that DEET-based repellents can be used on children as young as two months old and recommends concentrations of 30 percent or less.
Drain Standing Water
Stop mosquitoes where they’re born—the standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Mosquitoes can develop in any water that stands more than four days.
Two types of domestic mosquitoes are a common problem in Pinellas County: the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti; and the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes are called “ankle-biters” because they tend to bite people below the knee. They can quickly colonize a neighborhood and find standing water wherever available. One mosquito will try to bite then fly away at the slightest movement, and it continues that process until it gets a bloodmeal—making one mosquito seem like several.
Help Control Mosquitoes
- Regularly check and empty water in items such as flower pots and saucers, wheelbarrows, trash cans, recycling containers, buckets, discarded tires and plastic wading pools. Drill holes in tire-swings to prevent water collection.
- Store small boats upside down to keep water out.
- Be sure that rain doesn’t collect in tarps covering boats or other stored items.
- Replace water in bird baths at least once a week.
- Change the water in pet dishes daily.
- Clean out gutters so they won’t hold water.
- Flush out bromeliads twice weekly. You can also treat bromeliads, ornamental ponds and rain barrels with larvicide, which is available at local home and garden stores.
- Stock ponds with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
What We Do to Protect You
Pinellas County uses a proactive, tactical approach to control mosquitoes. This begins with careful monitoring of the mosquito population through traps located around the county. Mosquitoes are more prevalent in the hot, rainy months of the year, but they can remain in swampy and tidal areas even when drought conditions persist. Pinellas County Mosquito Control combats mosquito breeding by:
- Removing containers that can act as mosquito-breeding sites.
- Applying mosquito larvicide to targeted bodies of water and swampy areas.
- Clearing vegetation that stops the natural flushing of ponds and ditches.
- Spraying larvicide by truck or helicopter in infested areas.
- Monitoring viruses through sentinel chickens caged in eight target locations. Routine blood tests on these chickens detect virus antibodies—an early alert that a virus is present locally.
Did You Know?
Mosquitoes are attracted by the carbon dioxide exhaled from our breath, which they can detect from great distances.
Pinellas County Mosquito Control
Online: Mosquito Control
Pinellas County Extension
Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County
If you would like to request Mosquito Control service, or if you are looking for someone to speak to your group or organization about mosquito prevention, please call 727-464-7503.