When we think of living in idyllic Florida, the images that probably come to mind include beaches, parks, and relaxing in our own back yards. The fantastic weather we enjoy makes all this possible nearly year-round.
However, there’s one thing that can interfere with these outdoor activities: mosquitoes.
Besides the outright annoyance factor, why should you care about mosquitoes?
Are they dangerous?
What can be done to prevent them?
Are mosquitoes in Florida dangerous?
There are over 80 species of mosquitoes in Florida. Most are harmless, and pose no more threat to you than an itchy bite. However, there are three notable exceptions:
- Aedes Aegypti
This mosquito is found statewide and is responsible for the transmission of Dengue, Yellow Fever, Zika Virus, and Chikungunya Virus. It will bite during the day time.
- Aedes Albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito)
Closely related to Aedes Aegypti, these mosquitoes carry Zika and Chikungunya viruses. Mammal hosts include people and dogs. This species of mosquito is also known to bite during the daytime and is found throughout Florida.
- Six Species of Anopheles Mosquitoes
A common trait of the Anopheles mosquito is that they are all vectors for malaria. Some species will also carry dog heartworms. Heartworms are a dangerous—and sadly, sometimes fatal—illness commonly found in dogs (although canine heartworms can also affect cats). Most species of Anopheles mosquitoes are found in south Florida, but others can be encountered across the state.
Although uncommon when compared to the number of bites inflicted by all other species of mosquitoes, the hazards associated with a mosquito bite from those listed above can be very serious for you and your pets.
When are mosquitoes active in Florida?
The warm climate in Florida is great for retirees and beachgoers, but it is also nearly perfect for mosquitoes. Only when temperatures remain below 50 degrees do mosquito populations begin to suffer. This isn’t enough to kill them, but slows their metabolism to the point where they will not fly. In fact, these tough pests can remain safely inactive at low temperatures for long periods until the temperature warms enough for them to return to their active lifestyle. Given this resilience, it’s easy to see how mosquitoes can be active year-round in Florida!
How can I control mosquitoes?
There are several things you can do to control mosquitoes on your property. Fortunately, the Florida government is doing its part too: throughout the state, local governments enact control programs aimed at diminishing mosquito populations. These are typically combinations of:
- water control measures to eliminate breeding sites
- larvicide treatments to control mosquito development
- insecticide applications to control adult populations
However, these government efforts can only do so much. It is up to us as residents to take responsibility for mosquito control measures in our small corner of the world.
The most practical way to control mosquitoes in your yard is to manage the insect’s habitat. Mosquitoes lay eggs in water, where the larva and pupae continue to develop until they emerge as adults. Simply controlling standing water in and around your property can have a considerable impact.
Some sources of standing water are obvious: puddles of water gathering in ditches or swales, bird baths, and flower pots. Areas less likely to be noticed include neglected gutters, children’s toys, and water-retaining plants such as bromeliads. Keep in mind that in the summer, it can take less than a week for mosquitoes to go from egg to biting adult! This means standing water does not have to remain available for much time to be used by mosquitoes.
How can I protect myself from mosquito bites?
Along with controlling mosquitoes in your yard, it’s also important to protect yourself, your family, and your pets when enjoying time outdoors. Since most mosquitoes will bite at dusk, try to avoid going outside or putting your pet out at that time of day.
Protect yourself from bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. When this isn’t convenient (hello, summer!) use a mosquito repellant product of your choice. Products containing DEET are widely considered to be the most effective.
For those seeking more natural options, citronella oil is often held up as an organic repellent, as are cedar oil and oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). In recent years several “all natural” pest control solutions (such as Wondercide) have hit the market, many with high reviews. Whichever you pursue, use caution with application and do proper research to find the right option for you and your family.
Don’t forget to protect your pets by treating them with products to control heartworms. While this won’t prevent mosquito bites, it will prevent the development of heartworms. Many of the topical flea remedies will also control heartworm larva in your pet. Please consult with your veterinarian on the best protection for your pet.
Need to control mosquitoes for a special outdoor event?
We offer treatment services that will help you control mosquitoes if you have a special outdoor event coming up, such as a wedding, backyard BBQ, or Fourth of July celebration. Give us a call at 386-673-1557 to find out which option is best for your needs.
Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.
Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control