Mosquitoes triple in Polk County after Irma

One trap had more than 100,000 of the bugs in it. What are officials doing, and what can you do?

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WTSP) -- While most people in Tampa Bay have recovered from Irma, there are still some lingering effects from the hurricane. One of those is a huge increase in mosquitoes, especially in Polk County.

“You feel them constantly,” said Regis Devenanzio, who lives in Winter Haven. “And you see them, and you definitely don't leave the light on at night, or you can't come in and out of the door because they're waiting.”

The numbers back what Devenanzio’s noticed. Mosquito control found a single trap not far from his house with more than 100,000 mosquitoes in it.

Overall, the number of mosquitoes in Polk tripled compared to just before Irma.

“Numbers usually begin to taper off right up to October,” said Dr. Carl Boohene, Polk County’s mosquito control manager.

Boohene said instead of tapering, the storm caused a spike. It left behind lots of water and debris. Crews have been spraying from the air and the ground. They've even called in an airplane with the help of the state and FEMA, which can cover a greater distance.

“Usually after a hurricane like this, you're going to expect a sudden outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases,” Boohene said.

There’s not much you can do about storm debris, except wait for it to be picked up. What you can do is wear mosquito repellent and clear standing water from around your home.

Mosquito control said the airplane is spraying a different chemical than normal, called Naled. The controversial chemical created concern in Miami when it was used to curb the Zika outbreak there, but Boohene told 10News they need it to get the population under control. He also said the chemical will have only minor effects, if any, on other wildlife. 

However, it's important to note that the EPA is re-evaluating the use of this chemical and how it can impact human health. It plans to complete its evaluation by the end of this year.

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