While Tropical Storm Debby has exited the Tampa Bay area, something else that is troublesome is on the horizon: a mosquito outbreak.
Between moist junk in trash containers and back yards transformed into swamps, plenty of new breeding grounds for mosquitoes have appeared in Debby’s wake.
On Monday, Pinellas County Mosquito Control technicians began inspecting and treating sites where there were mosquitoes already.
“That’s sort of just the Band-Aid – just getting the mosquitoes that are out at that time,” said Nancy Iannotti, district operations manager. “It’s like treating a sore with the bandage instead of taking antibiotics.”
On Wednesday, she said, technicians began to see additional mosquitoes hatching. Technicians will need to locate and eradicate the larvae to stop their growth into blood-sucking adults.
Last week Mosquito Control targeted about 2,500 acres in North Pinellas and about 1,500 acres in South Pinellas as prime areas to search and treat.
They quickly determined that North Pinellas had the most immediate problem, so helicopters were deployed to access and spray areas that were large or not accessible by foot, starting on Thursday. Iannotti said they planned to reassess on Friday whether to fly over and treat South Pinellas.
“We have a lot of acres to cover,” Iannotti said. “We’ll be working extra hours. We’re going to get to as much as we can.”
The agency was evaluating areas that might need treatment with fogging trucks and was responding to calls for service from the community.
However, it isn’t just the government’s job. Mosquito Control urges residents to survey their own properties as well. Puddles, pools, flower pots holding excess water, boat tarps and water at the bottom of recycling and trash bins are ideal places for mosquitoes to lay eggs. All they need is a teaspoon of water, according to the county.
The eggs hatch into larvae, which then grow into the pupa stage, and finally become adult mosquitoes.
“If you don’t have the water, you don’t have the larvae and pupae,” Iannotti said. “You have to check anything that can hold water. Dump it or drain it.”