Crews check areas on Sanibel for standing water that could bring mosquitoes

Hurricane Sally brought a lot of rain to Southwest Florida when it passed by as a tropical storm. A new concern due to all the wet weather is more pesky mosquitoes.

Crews were all over Sanibel Island on Tuesday checking to see if there are more mosquitoes than normal.

The Lee County Mosquito Control District said mosquitoes that lay their eggs in the water can carry West Nile virus, but the water can also kill other breeds of mosquitoes.

A pool of water surrounds Bobby and JoAnn Vines’ house on Sanibel. They’ve rented for about a decade and never saw as much water as they got from Sally, even during a hurricane.

“We just never comprehended that a foot of water would fall continuously,” Bobby said.

“We’d open the front door, and everything looked OK,” JoAnn said. “Then, we opened it again and the water had breached over the little step. We kept measuring, looking down, seeing, trying to figure out if it was coming in the house.”

The Vines are not alone. Standing water is still covering many yards after Sally slowly moved over the island, dumping more than 20 inches of rain over the weekend as a tropical storm.

“Just because we had rain doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to have a big emergence of mosquitoes,” said Eric Jackson, the deputy director of Lee County Mosquito Control District.

Jackson said they aren’t taking any chances. Crews are out in full force, checking for eggs in the water.

Jackson said the heavy rain could actually help keep the mosquito population down.

“When you have a lot of water, that there’s so much that it floods that it connects with other bodies of water that already have fish in it, those fish will start moving into those flooded areas and you’ve got a natural form of control.”

While the water slowly recedes, the Vines have their bug spray ready.

“I was out sweeping the porch, and there was this mosquito flying around looking at me,” JoAnn said. “And I said, ‘Go away; I don’t need you.’”

The standing water isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If you have lots of standing water outside your home, the Lee County Mosquito Control District wants you to put on that bug spray and walk around your home, dumping out any containers full of water where mosquitoes might lay their eggs.

If you are experiencing a high number of mosquitoes at your residence in Lee County, you can make a service request by clicking on this link or contacting the LCMCD directly at (239) 694-2174.

In Collier County, you can do that by clicking here, and in Charlotte County, visit this site.

Collier Mosquito Control District is also working to limit a mosquito outbreak due to standing water from Sally.

Here’s what the Collier Mosquito District has planned this week:

  • Last night we flew a treatment for mosquitoes in the East Naples/Lely area because surveillance indicated high numbers of mosquitoes
  • Also last night, we drive our A1 Mister truck through the Bayshore area, dispersing larvicide* for kill mosquito larvae in standing water
  • Our surveillance this morning indicated high numbers of mosquitoes in Ave Maria and Immokalee, so we are flying a treatment for mosquitoes in that area tonight
  • Our Field Technicians’ trucks are fitted with equipment to treat all ditches and roadside swales with larvicide* as they drive through the District
  • One Field Technician is closely monitoring the water in the downtown Naples area, and this morning he reported that it’s still moving/draining which is a good sign (mosquitoes can’t breed in moving water)
  • Our surveillance also includes aerial inspections via helicopter, and this morning’s visual report indicates that Golden Gate Estates is quite full of standing water, so beginning tomorrow we are dispersing granular larvicide* via helicopter throughout Golden Gate Estates. The granules are a slow-release treatment that lasts about 30 days, so the intent is to minimize the potential for high numbers of mosquitoes
  • The current conditions of standing water and warm temperatures mean mosquitoes can be breeding/hatching in about 7 days, so it’s important that we interrupt the life cycle of the mosquitoes by controlling the larvae that could be developing
  • As always, we encourage residents to survey their own property and please, please dump out anything that is holding water (i.e., buckets, trash cans, wheelbarrows, tarps, etc.)

Note: the larvicide we use is Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis ) which is a biological or a naturally occurring bacterium found in soils. It contains spores that specifically target and only affect the larvae of the mosquito, blackfly and fungus gnat. It is harmless to people, animals, plants, and fish, and is also used in organic farming.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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