As mosquito season kicks into gear, Lee County staffers are tracking and treating the population, and offering residents tips to keep levels down.
"Mosquito season has started," Shelly Redovan, with the Lee County Mosquito Control District, said. "It isn't as intense as it's going to get."
The heart of season tends to be full summer, about July or so.
"It just depends on the weather," she said. "The weather dictates everything. It's just a matter of tide and rain."
Following this week's rain, the county has been treating the coastal areas of western Cape Coral, Pine Island, Iona-McGregor, Bonita Springs and Estero.
"We had some mosquito hatchings from that rainfall," Redovan said.
With the start of the full moon today and higher than normal tides expected, staffers anticipate being in the field next week tracking mosquito larvae.
"To prevent new hatchings from coming off of that," she said.
There are two types of mosquitoes the district deals with.
Freshwater mosquitoes require standing water to lay their eggs. If the amount of rainfall does not allow for water to sit for several days in which they can lay their eggs, then the population is essentially kept in check.
Salt marsh mosquitoes deposit their eggs in the ground, and as the tide comes in, the eggs hatch. Droughts and low tides provide them with more area to lay their eggs and more area for the district to watch and treat.
"With the tide charts, it gives us a rough idea of when the water's coming through and where to look," Redovan said.
When checking hatchings, inspectors check areas that can be reached on foot. Areas that are not reachable are checked with helicopters and boats.
"It is a physical check," she said. "You have to go out and check the water to see if there's mosquitoes developing."
Redovan added that so far, the district has not seen quite the number of mosquitoes this season that it saw in 2011. In April, there were 371 service requests from the public for adult mosquitoes compared to 549 last year.
Inspectors have been finding dense concentrated areas of mosquitoes.
"Last year, we were seeing more mosquitoes because it was a larger area that was producing than what we're seeing right now," she said.
To report a need for service, contact 694-2174 - 24 hours a day.
"They go into a database, that way we can see where the mosquito problems are," Redovan said, adding that staffers can then identify problem areas.
At that point, someone is sent to an area to check mosquito levels.
"We have to see an increase in what is a normal amount of mosquitoes before we can treat," she said. "You have to have a demonstrable amount of increase."
The district treats areas using trucks, airplanes or helicopters.
Redovan offered suggestions to help curb the mosquito population.
Outside pet dishes, gutters and more can be breeding grounds.
"Mainly, watch for any type of container that's going to hold water," she said. "Look for standing water and dump it out, or treat the water."
Products are available at garden and home supply stores.
Those who collect rain in barrels or buckets at their home for watering should put screens over the containers and secure them in place.
"That would keep them protected from raising their own mosquitoes," Redovan said.
Not burning outside lights located near doors all night long and switching to yellow lights makes homes less attractive to mosquitoes.
Keeping vegetation away from doors and windows keeps them from having a place to hang out.
Mosquitoes are most active from 9 p.m. to midnight.
"If they can avoid being outside during those hours, they can avoid some of the worst mosquitoes," she said. "And just remember, light colored clothing is less attractive than dark colored clothing."
For more information, contact the district at 694-2174.