Mosquitoes don’t stand a chance with the Mosquito Control District on the job

Phil Goodman, Florida Keys Mosquito Control District 2 Commissioner, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on with the mosquitoes.

The weather has been all over the board recently and that definitely impacts the mosquitoes.

Goodman said, “The mosquito season this year started a little bit early with all the rain in April and it’s kind of continued. We’re getting a little bit of a reprieve in July right now, not as wet as it was in June. The months are kind of reversed. But as a result, we’ve had a lot of salt marsh mosquitoes, particularly in the Upper Keys. We’ve got those under control.”

There have also been high Aedes aegypti numbers in the Keys, too.

Goodman said, “Right now, things are under control pretty well. But it’s been catch up since April for us.  By the end of June this year, we had already sprayed as many acres almost as we had sprayed the entire year last year. So every year is different. But right now things are looking okay for us.”

The Aedes aegypti can bring mosquito-borne illnesses.

Goodman said, “So far, we’ve had no mosquito borne diseases in the Keys this year or last year. We’re working hard to keep it that way. We did have one travel-related case of dengue fever here this year. We have a very aggressive program when we get a travel-related case, meaning that somebody has come in from another location and contracted dengue fever there, usually outside the country. Once the health department knows this, they notify us and we do very aggressive treatments in those areas. So we managed to keep it out of the Keys. So no local transmission of any mosquito borne disease in the Keys at this time, but we’re certainly on high alert.”

Dengue fever has been reported in Miami last year and this year.

Goodman said, “So we’re on high alert because of Miami Dade primarily and more people were traveling. There’s I think about 20 countries so far have been responsible for bringing Dengue fever into Florida. We’ve had well over 100 cases this year of imported Dengue fever. Last year, there were over 800 and the year before they were only 29. Things have really increased in the last couple of years.”

There are seven cases of locally transmitted malaria in Sarasota County and over 100 cases of travel related malaria in Florida this year.

Goodman said, “We normally have travel related cases in the US every year, but to have local transmission is very rare. It’s just a sign of the time. There are more mosquito borne diseases right now worldwide. We’re certainly on high alert to try to keep this out of Monroe County. So far, we’ve been very successful.”

The Oxitec project could be part of the reason we’re seeing lower numbers of disease.

Goodman explained, “This is the third season that we’re actually using the experimental permit here. We will be releasing for the entire year about 3 million mosquitoes, male mosquitoes, non biting mosquitoes. We’re about half through now, about a million and a half had been released. Everything’s going just as planned. The mosquitoes are emerging in high numbers. They’re mating with the local population. In fact, the latest statistics we’ve seen as high as 75% of the local adult female mosquitoes in these areas are mating with the Oxitec males, which really helps to accelerate bringing the numbers of the Aedes aegypti down in those test areas. We plan to continue running these at least through September, barring any storms, hopefully, maybe even into November. Right now, the EPA has the data from the last two years. They’re studying it. We’re hopeful that sometime in 2025, probably not before then, they will be able to allow registration of this so that we can use it as a regular tool. But so far, we’re very pleased with the results. They wanted the mosquito to behave just like the local mosquito and basically so far for the last three years, we’ve seen that the Oxitec mosquito male is behaving exactly like the wild mosquito. So it’s really good news. We’re very encouraged by what we’ve seen so far.”

A new type of chemical sprayer is being used now on mosquitoes.

Goodman said, “Some new technology and spray equipment for mosquito control has been recently developed. We evaluated it for the last two years, but we’re actually using it in increasing amounts this year, and it’s actually a turbine pump. This is for larvicide. All areas of the Keys will now see this more and more. It looks quite different than our normal spray equipment. It looks similar to a Civil War era cannon mounted on the back of a truck. The sound is a little different than the other sound. It puts out a pretty big volume of larvicide and this new technology has allowed the use of one of the best products that we’ve ever used, which is a larvicide for the Aedes aegypti mosquito. With this new technology, we’re actually expanding it, applying it by truck. So this gives us another dimension to help control the Aedes aegypti mosquito. So people will see it and I just wanted to alert them that does look a bit different, but the chemical that we’re spraying there is just a bacteria larvicide that only affects Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae. So it’s completely safe, one of the best products that really has ever been developed for mosquito control.”

The equipment can be seen in the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys.

Goodman said, “We expanded it a lot this year, and probably will expand it more next year. So everybody will see it. Usually it is in the evening, as well. It’s like our other truck spray missions, but this one looks a little different. I just wanted to alert your listeners that this is some new technology. We’re kind of in the middle of a real technology boom in mosquito control products that we use and this is just a good example of it.”

The spray is safe for humans and pets.

Goodman confirmed, “That’s correct. It looks a little different. I just want to let people be aware that this is a real good technology that we’re just starting to really employ a lot now.”