CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Every year Charlotte County deals with an outbreak of Salt Marsh mosquitoes, but county officials are saying that this year is particularly bad. One of the reasons the county gave for this is the dry winter we saw.
Scott Schermerhorn is the County Manager of the Division of Mosquito and Aquatic Weed Control. He tells Fox 4 that despite the recent widespread rainfall from last week’s tropical system, he was hoping for more in Charlotte County to help naturally control their mosquito outbreak.
For example, much of Lee and Collier Counties saw 4 to 8 inches of rain, while Charlotte County only saw 2 to 3 inches on average. Schermerhorn says the Salt Marsh mosquitoes need a solid surface to lay their eggs. He says the original hope was for rain to flush the marshlands of mosquito eggs and larva into Charlotte Harbor, where they would be eaten by fish and our predators.
“If the marshes are flooded and the water is there and there is nothing for them to lay their eggs on, they have to move further inland where there will not be as much water and the eggs will not be laid, any eggs that are laid will obviously be eaten the fish that will invade the marshes when they are flooded and other creatures,” said Schermerhorn. “So, it is part of the natural food chain.”
Schermerhorn says the county is actively working to break the cycle of reproduction of these pest mosquitoes. One such method is dropping a natural bacteria called BIT over the marshes. This bacterium prevents the larva mosquitoes from reaching adulthood.
“The larva actually feed on it,” said Schermerhorn. “They inject the bacterium. The bacterium forms a small crystal. And that crystal is non-digestible and actually slices through the larva and the larva never gets a chance to reach pupa stage or hatch.”
The County applies this larvicide during the day, then doubles up by spraying for the adult mosquitoes at night to help prevent the laying of eggs. Schermerhorn also adds these salt marsh mosquitoes are more of a pest and do not carry mosquito bore illness for humans but can carry heartworm affecting your family pets.
County officials say they are using all available resources to combat the salt marsh outbreak and hope to have it under control within the next 8 to 10 days.