Friday, September 20, 2019

COASTAL COMMENTS

Donna Fiala

Donna Fiala

Mosquitoes – Even their name makes you want to swat one on your arm! But how much do we know about them and about the Collier County Mosquito Control District?

The Collier County Mosquito Control District had an open house recently and one of their board members, Jeanne Brooker, encouraged her neighbors to attend, so I did. I learned so many things I never knew and they reemphasized information I was familiar with, so I thought others might also want to know a little more about these pesky creatures. The Mosquito Control District has its own (very conservative, I might add) taxing district and its own Board of Commissioners – The Board of County Commissioners do not make any decisions for this agency. You will find their millage rate as a separate line item on your property tax bill.

I was sitting on an airplane a couple days ago (after visiting with my Amish friends for a few days) next to Marco residents, Don & Doris Boston, who brought up a few interesting questions about mosquitoes. They mentioned that they used to hear loud airplanes spraying at night but do not hear them anymore. Luckily I had just been at the CCMCD airplane hangar and saw the much quieter airplanes they now use. The back end opens up like one of those planes that you used to see in military movies where they drove tanks into them through a door that opened and a loading platform that dropped down. These planes are the same principle but on a much smaller scale. They also have helicopters that are used in specialized areas where the spray must be directed away from environmentally sensitive areas, although the spray they use is far more advanced and much safer than what they used to use, and much smaller quantities.

As I looked around their hangar and maintenance facility, I noticed how very, very clean everything was and was assured this is always the way it looks. You could tell that was true because there were no stains or signs of past dirt. Believe me, I was ever so impressed. They explained they do not spray in certain areas such as Port of the Islands, Everglades City and the Everglades, etc. They spray during the night.

Remember in the 70’s when they used to spray from trucks going down the street and our kids used to run behind the trucks? Or when the airplanes sprayed early in the morning while the kids were waiting for their school busses? Obviously none of this happens any more. They still test like they used to though (another question from Mr. & Mrs. Boston) by standing in certain areas to see how many mosquitoes land on their arm in a certain amount of time. I really wouldn’t want that job, no matter how much you paid me!

Female mosquitoes bite because they need the blood to produce eggs. Mosquitoes are a problem in the summer because the rain and extreme high tides cause their eggs to hatch. When mosquito levels are high or there is a risk to human health, aerial spraying is used to control them.

There are two biological attributes related to mosquito egg-laying that contribute to the numbers of mosquitoes seen and felt during a post-hurricane period. The attributes separate mosquitoes on the basis of the conditions in which they lay their eggs. The two groups are floodwater mosquitoes and standing-water mosquitoes. Eggs can survive in dry soil through the winter and spring, and when the rains begin and the areas are inundated with water, it provides a cue for the eggs to hatch.

Well, I think I’ve told you enough about mosquitoes for the time being, but I used up so much space I don’t have room  to tell you about the Naples Free Net. Guess it will have to wait for another time.

Don’t forget to repair your screens, empty water from holding containers like bird baths, buckets, old tires, flower pots, etc., and check tarps on boats that may collect water. You can do this to protect yourself and your neighbors as much as possible from those pesky little critters called mosquitoes.


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