Mosquitoes


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Mosquitoes are as much a part of Florida as the sun and beaches. Unlike their Swedish relatives, myggor, the Florida mosquitoes are not only an annoyance but also a vector for viruses, deadly to humans and animals.

Mosquitoes in Florida

European explorers wrote about the mosquito problem in the 1800s, one drastic method to escape the insects was to sleep on the beach buried in the sand.  In the 1870s and 1880s there were outbreaks of Yellow Fever in the Panhandle, Jacksonville, Tampa, Plant City, Manatee County and Key West.  Many people died and suffered from this mosquito transmitted disease.  At that point though, there was no connection made between the mosquitoes and the Yellow Fever, not until 1898 it was determined that mosquitoes transmit malaria. In 1990 the connection between the Yellow Fever and mosquitoes was discovered. The last case of Yellow Fever was reported in 1910, dengue fever in 1932 and several cases of malaria were reported in Palm Beach County in 1996.  

In 1922 The Florida Anti-Mosquito Association was formed and in 1925 the first mosquito control district was founded.

Today there are 56 control districts in Florida that monitor and control the 80 species of mosquitoes in the state.   Read more about control districts and mosquitoes in Florida here:  http://mosquito.ifas.ufl.edu/Florida_Mosquito_Control.htm

 Originally, the state founded anti-mosquito programs focused on source reduction such as standing water using dynamite ditching and elimination of standing water.  In the 1940’s DDT was introduced as an insecticide.  It was sprayed from the ground and from the air. DDT was very efficient in killing the adult mosquitoes and the larvae.  Eventually though, mosquitoes developed resistance to the pesticide.  In 1972 DDT was banned in the USA due to the negative environmental impact of the spraying of DDT. DDT was banned for agricultural worldwide under the Stockholm Convention in 2001. The ban on DDT in the US is considering the major factor for the return of the bald eagle, the national bird of the Unites States that almost became extinct due to the DDT usage.

The bald eagle is today seen all over Florida and the official nesting season for bald eagles starts October 1st.

Today mosquitoes are reduced by a combination of source reduction activities combined with the use of pesticides aimed at killing adult mosquitoes, larvae and eggs.  The most efficient use of pesticides is aimed at killing the larvae, trucks, airplanes and helicopters are used to spray large areas.

The Florida Mosquito Control districts will respond to mosquito complaints from Floridians to assess reported problems for adequate treatment.

The mosquitoes in Florida are not only a nuisance for humans and animals, they also spread diseases that can be fatal.  The Mosquito Control Districts monitor viruses transmitted by mosquitoes.  Blood is examined weekly from hens placed out in cages all over Florida. If analysis of the hens-blood from a certain area detects a virus, the district will try to identify and eliminate the mosquito breeding source.

Mosquito transmitted diseases

Except for the Yellow Fever and  Malaria, mosquitoes in Florida can transmit other viruses.

EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) is spread to humans and horses by infected mosquitoes. It is a so called arbovirus that can affect the central nervous system and cause death. Horses can be vaccinated against EEE but not humans.  In Florida there have been reports of EEE activity in 52 0f 67 counties including two human cases. Symptoms of EEE ranges from none to fever, headache and sore throat to a more serious infection that leads to sudden headache, sudden fever followed by seizures and coma.

SLE (St Louis encephalitis) is mostly found along the Gulf of Mexico, especially in Florida. There have been SLE epidemics in Florida reported from the 50’s to the 90’s. Symptoms are similar to those of EEE. There is no vaccine against SLE.

WNV (West Nile Virus) appeared in the US in 1999 in New York with 7 human deaths and 9 horses also died. In 2001 66 human cases were reported with 10 deaths in 10 states. In 2001 there were 733 horses reported infected in the US, 66% of them in Florida of them 33% were fatal. Today there is a vaccine for horses but not for humans.  Florida has reported a few human fatalities since the virus was introduced to the USA in 1999.

Dog heart worm – dirofilaria immitis Mosquito bites can cause this life-threatening disease in dogs. It is caused by a round worm whose larvae develops in the mosquito and is transmitted to the dog where they live and develop  in the lungs and the heart of the dog, once established the worms cause damage to the heart and lungs of the dog and might eventually kill the dog. Heart worm infections can be prevented by regular treatment with the dewormer ivermectin.

Mosquito repellants

The best protection against mosquito bites is to avoid being outdoors when the mosquitoes are most active, during dusk and dawn.  If you need to spend time in mosquito infested areas you need to use a DEET-product and light, loose fitting clothing.

The normal diet for mosquitoes is nectar, it is the female mosquito that bites as she needs the protein from the blood in order to lay her eggs. The female mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide as well as moisture, warmth and body odor from humans and animals.  DEET-based repellants does not actually repel the insects, it blocks the smells that attract the mosquitoes. By using DEET-products people become invisible to the female mosquito.  The University of Florida tested 17 mosquito repellants and found that the more DEET they contained the better they worked. Best results had the product Off! Deep Woods that contain 23.8% DEET.

Read more about DEET here http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/chemicals/deet.htmThe color of clothing will also matter not to attract the biters. The females are attracted to dark and black colors but not to light or white clothes. Loose fitting light clothing is recommended.    

Source elimination

Make sure to drain any standing water around your house and yard. Mosquitoes like standing water and will breed in the smallest container as long as there is water. The water in bird baths and other containers should be changed every second day to prevent the development of larvae.

Misters, candles and zappers

There is a wide range of mosquito killers offered on the market.  None of them have proven to keep mosquitoes away from humans though. Even if they do happen to kill a few mosquitoes, as well as other innocent flying insects, they cannot keep them away from you.  The most proven and efficient protection against mosquito bites is still using repellants containing DEET.

Comments

1 - Hej Peter, Myggorna kommer med sommarvarmen och regnen i maj. Vid havet och pa stranden ar det mestadels myggfritt men i inlandet ar det mycket mygg speciellt vid gryning och skymning. De flesta hus i Floridas inland har sina utesittplatser och swimmingpools inscreenade med myggnat. Disney World ar ju byggt pa traskmark och ligger i inlandet men dar sprejar man gift konstant for att inte alla turister ska besvaras!

2 - hej
naer aer det vaerst med myggorna och var i florida ?
inte hela tiden vael o inte hela florida vael ?? Emoticon
mvh
peter

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