ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida has seen a mosquito boom since Hurricane Ian soaked the Sunshine State, leaving pools and puddles of standing water the little bloodsuckers use to lay their eggs. "Well they carry diseases, number one, and they're a pest!" says Winter Park resident John McDade.
Central Florida counties are stepping up the fight. Seminole County has already been spraying for mosquitoes. Orange, Brevard, and Flagler counties will start aerial spraying, this week. "We saw a spike in mosquito populations after the storm. That resource is available to us, so we decided to put in a request to try and get some relief for some of our residents," says Steve Harrison, who runs Orange County’s Mosquito Control division.
Spraying will happen in the evenings and should take one or two nights. Brevard County will be spraying areas near I-95. Flagler County will be spraying west of A1A and areas west of US-1. Orange County has their target zones in Apopka, Hunter's Creek and east Orlando. "It's on the outskirts we get into areas that are wider that we can't get good coverage with our truck sprays that we like to do the aerial sprays because we have a higher percentages of mosquitoes in those areas," Harrison says.
The US EPA says the sprays are not harmful to humans or pets. Public health officials say besides leaving itchy red bites, mosquitoes also transmit dangerous diseases. "What we see is encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, we have seen zika, which is really bad for pregnant women, and west Nile virus, which can be somewhat more commonplace in Florida," says Dr. Todd Husty, Seminole County Medical Director.
County officials are also asking people to do their part, by covering up or draining out any standing water on their properties.