TAMPA, Fla. - It’s summer in Florida -- that means hurricane season, alligator mating season and now mosquitoes are on the move as well. Crews in Hillsborough County are stepping up to battle these pests.
“The daily battle to take back neighborhoods from the more than 40 species of mosquitoes that reside in Hillsborough County depends on a delicate balance of scientific controls and resident participation,” the county’s website reads.
Hillsborough’s mosquito management program protects residents by monitoring for mosquito-borne illnesses, and control the pests through biological methods, trapping, elimination of breeding sites, destruction of larvae, and spraying pesticides at street level and from the sky.
The county’s surveillance system includes 30 mosquito traps spread out across Hillsborough to keep track of the mosquito population. The program also uses a Sentinel Chicken program to monitor for Encephalitis viruses in birds before they reach humans.
“Our unit conducts more than 20,000 larvae inspections per year,” the department’s county web page boasts. “Problem areas might be eligible for applications of pesticide from vehicles, helicopters or planes.”
The county is giving away free mosquito-eating fish to residents as a natural way to reduce backyard mosquito breeding.
The small, native freshwater fish eat mosquito larvae and are ideal for backyard ponds, birdbaths, fountains, unused swimming pools or other standing water. They require no feeding, do not lay eggs, and do not need a special environment for breeding.
Due to social distancing protocols, the fish handout events will be drive-thru only from 9 a.m. to noon on the following Saturdays:
- June 27 – Mosquito Management Services - 6527 Eureka Springs Road in Tampa
- July 11 – Providence Skate Park - 5720 Providence Road in Riverview
- July 25 – Northdale Park - 15550 Spring Pine Drive in Tampa
- August 8 – Keystone Rec Center - 17928 Gunn Hwy in Odessa
- August 22 – Mike E. Sansone Community Park - 1702 N. Park Road in Plant City
- September 12 – SouthShore Library - 15816 Beth Shields Way in Ruskin
- September 26 – Temple Terrace Public Library - 202 Bullard Pkwy in Temple Terrace
Those who want to pick up the fish must show ID proving they are residents of Hillsborough County.
According to the most recent Mosquito Management data available online, in 2018 the department responded to more than 5,500 customer service requests and completed more than 8,600 inspections of mosquito larval production sites. The program conducted mosquito larvae remediation on 21,080 acres and conducted adult mosquito remediation on 1,072,237 acres. Also in 2018, crews responded to 40 confirmed mosquito-borne disease (arbovirus) cases.
Hillsborough County offers free presentations for adults to community groups and businesses on the topics of mosquito management and prevention. County officials say mosquitoes are not known to carry COVID-19.
LINK: Get updated information on mosquito-borne disease prevention from the Florida Department of Health website.