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'Explosion' of Salt Marsh Mosquitoes Swarms Collier County

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Photo: JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Creative Commons
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A female Ochlerotatus notoscriptus mosquito feeding on a human arm.

A brood of salt marsh mosquitoes borne from high tides along Southwest Florida’s coastal mangroves descended on Collier County this week, unleashing a “horrendous” torrent of insects that experts say is the worst they’ve seen in a decade.
High winds contributed to spreading the pestilential bugs 30 to 40 miles inland. The Collier County Mosquito Control District recevied reports of clouds of the pests a dozen miles off shore.

The salt marsh mosquito species doesn't transmit the Zika virus, but can pose a threat to pets as a vector of dog heartworm. The mosquito eggs hatched in areas the district says it cannot and does not regularly spray to control the bugs.

Collier County Mosquito Control District Executive Director Patrick P. Linn joins the show to explain the combination of tides, winds, and weather that resulted in the surge of salt marsh mosquitoes, what the district can and cannot do in response, and what it portends for the summer months ahead.

Also joining the program is Neil Wilkinson, an FGCU instructor in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences who has worked with mosquito education outreach programs in Lee County schools, to discuss the nearly 50 mosquito species in South Florida, diseases like Zika and dengue fever these pests can spread, and other big projects related to mosquito research in Florida.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.