Brevard Mosquito Control Fights Historic Levels of Mosquito Breeding Activity in Merritt Island

      MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — While Brevard County as a whole is experiencing extremely heavy mosquito breeding activity countywide, the Central Brevard area, particularly Merritt Island, is being impacted the most, with breeding being recorded at historic levels.

      The salt marsh mosquitoes are the main culprit, and are aggressive daytime and nighttime biters. They are also prolific breeders that hatch in broods with tens of millions of mosquitoes going to wing at one time.

      The 2011 mosquito season in Brevard County has seen mosquito activity more than double than what has been experienced in this region over the past few years. The Mosquito Control District anticipates treating more acres this year than that treated in 2009 and 2010 combined. Mosquito treatments have increased over 250% from this time last year.

      Mosquito Control field staff is working seven days a week throughout the county, from 6:30 a.m. to nearly 2 a.m., conducting field counts, monitoring traps, dipping for larvae, and killing adult mosquitoes and mosquito larvae.

      Due to the vast amount of salt marshes that exist in Merritt Island and other areas of the county, in addition to chemical control for mosquitoes, the District relies on mosquito impoundments to control the salt marsh mosquito. Unlike fresh water mosquitoes, salt marsh mosquitoes lay their eggs in moist to dry soil just above the current water level and wait for rain, tidal fluctuations or other water rise events to submerge the eggs so they can hatch. A square inch of salt marsh soil has been known to hold over 20,000 mosquito eggs.

      Due to drought conditions experienced earlier this year, the mosquito impoundments were not fully operational in Brevard until the last week in July and have only been 60% functional this year. As the average salt marsh mosquito lives 30 days, the controlling effect of the impoundments will not be fully felt until the third/fourth week in August. Until that time, every rain causes mosquitoes to hatch in any area that holds water for a 5-to-7 day period. In addition, mosquito treatments cannot take place if it is raining or if winds exceed 10 to 15 mph by truck and air.

      Although the Mosquito Control District is scheduling adult mosquito treatments nightly and have a kill effect of 90% on the specific targeted brood, new broods can hatch the following day, and it may appear that no treatments have taken place or that mosquito populations have increased.

      The salt marsh mosquito is not a disease-carrying insect for mosquito-to-human-transmitted disease, and there is no virus activity in Brevard County from fresh water mosquitoes.

      For information on the areas scheduled to be treated, or those areas which were successfully treated, visit www.brevardcounty.us/mosquito. Call 321-264-5032, extension 1 for a list of those spray areas scheduled for treatment each evening. The phone message is updated daily by 2 p.m.