TAMPA, Fla. — Your plants and lawn may have been screaming for rain these past few weeks, but with that rain comes more and more mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes breed and hatch in water. All it takes is an inch of standing water in your gutters, plant saucers, birdbaths, ditches, or even in your pet's water bowl outside to create a growing mosquito population around your home.
After heavy rain, you'll see the number of mosquitoes increase in seven to 10 days.
More than 40 species of mosquitoes live in Hillsborough County and some can carry deadly diseases like malaria, Zika virus, Dengue Fever and encephalitis.
Hillsborough County Mosquito Control helps control the population in several ways, by air, land and in the water. Helicopters will drop pellets containing a material harmful to mosquito larvae into areas with heavy concentrations of the pests. Once the larvae eat the pellets, the material will crystallize, killing the larvae.
Another method that breaks the reproduction cycle of a mosquito is the use of 'mosquito fish'. Homeowners with intentional standing water, like animal troughs or ponds, can use these fish to eat mosquito larvae.
For the first time, Hillsborough County is breeding its own mosquito fish to give away to residents. You can find the dates and locations here.
The county also has a fleet of trucks that will travel around the county to spray and kill adult mosquitoes. You can report areas with heavy mosquito density to the county to assess and schedule a spraying service at no cost.
Here are some other tips to prevent mosquitoes around your home:
- Check your rain gutters. When your gutters are clogged with leaves and other debris, standing water makes a perfect breeding space for mosquitoes.
- Change out water sources weekly. Clean out birdbaths, fountains, or pet drinking bowls that are left outside.
- Level out low areas. If you have low-lying areas in your yard that are prone to standing water after rain, consider filling them in and leveling the ground.
- Maintain your pool. Keep your water treated and circulating.
Hillsborough County, along with others in the Tampa Bay area have collection stations around to collect samples of different species. Scientists then identify and count each species and test the disease-carrying types for illness. Chickens are also placed around the county and tested for antibodies to mosquito-borne illnesses to keep track of which diseases are spreading.
You can find out which diseases you may be at risk of contracting by checking your local vector control department's website.
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