By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Mosquitoes are a year-round issue in South Florida but become especially pesky during the rainy summer months. Miami-Dade County made an announcement this morning that they have budgeted $13 million this year, ten times more than ten years ago, to make sure residents are protected.
Authorities are concerned that this year viruses such as Zika and Yellow Fever are showing up in the Caribbean and Central and South America. To combat this, Miami-Dade County has aerial spray contracts in place ready to deploy if needed.
“Dengue is always a concern for us, and we are paying especially close attention to a spike in cases in Cuba and other Caribbean islands,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, outlining the county’s mosquito-fighting strategies this year to local news.
“A lot of people travel to and from Cuba and other Caribbean and South American countries where dengue numbers are rising now and we need to stay on top of this disease.”
Miami-Dade County encouraged residents to make their own preparations as we enter peak mosquito season. The provided the following simple tips:
Eliminate standing water. A capful of water can breed up to 300 mosquitoes. Drain and cover items that accumulate water like pots, planters, tires, baby pools, boats, tree stumps (fill with mortar) and rain gutters. These areas attract egg-laying mosquitoes.
Beware of the bromeliad. These decorative plants are the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Flush the center of the plant with fresh water or add a few drops of vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray to the center where water accumulates to prevent hatching. Using larvicide granules containing the naturally-occurring EPA-approved substance called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) also helps to prevent breeding.
Protect bird baths, fish ponds and pet dishes. Change pet water dishes and bird baths at least once a week to disrupt the mosquito life cycle. Use larvicide briquettes containing Bti in fish ponds and bird baths.
Secure the home. Check screens for gaps and holes to prevent mosquitoes from making themselves “at home”.
Use mosquito repellant. Choose a repellant registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, like oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is natural and effective and has a pleasant smell.
Cover up. Wear long sleeves, pants, socks and shoes. Consider using mosquito netting to cover the bedding of children younger than two months.
On a recent Top 50 Mosquito Cities list, Miami ranked 14, down six spots from last year. Atlanta took the number 1 spot for the sixth year in a row, with New York City and Washington, D.C., in the next two top positions.
The Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control and Habitat Management Division monitors a network of more than 180 traps, conducts truck larvicide missions and responds to resident inspection requests.