Pinellas County takes 200 mosquito help calls in one day

PINELLAS COUTNY, Fla. - Pinellas County Mosquito Control has been taking hundreds of phone calls after the announcement of the first non-travel related case of Zika in Pinellas County.

Rob Krueger with Pinellas County said they got a little more than 200 calls asking about mosquitoes on Tuesday.

"Our average is usually 300-400 per month," he said.

Krueger said a lot of the calls were education based, "they're wondering if we're out there doing our job, or people asking what to do with a ditch in their backyard."

Right now, Krueger's staff of around dozen technicians have been answering service calls throughout Pinellas County, putting in a 14 hour shift just on Tuesday.

The mosquito control unit under Pinellas County said the calls for pools, retention ponds, and swamp areas aren't as concerning as domesticated standing water.

"We're looking for container breeding mosquitoes," said Krueger.

The county said this specific type of mosquito that carries the Zika virus is usually in small containers, that can be breed in as little as 1/2 inch of water.

"If you picture an entire map of Florida, we have swamps, we have ditches, we have flooded fields, those are not really our concern."

That's because this specific mosquito prefers to live in and around human dwellings.

Along with small containers, these insects prefer fresh rains.

Right now, education is key: getting neighbors, residents to dump any small standing water to stop the breeding of mosquitoes.

The county will still come help you and your neighbors figure out a solution for any type of mosquito on your property from abandoned pools to ponds, to small bodies of water.

Here are tips from Mosquito Control website:

  • Empty water from flower pots, garbage cans, recycling containers, wheelbarrows, aluminum cans, boat tarps, old tires, and buckets - any item that can hold water.
  • Flush birdbaths and wading pools weekly.
  • Flush ornamental bromeliads or treat with BTI, a biological larvicide available at home stores. 
  • Clean roof gutters, which can become clogged and hold water.
  • Change the water in outdoor pet dishes regularly.
  • Keep pools and spas chlorinated and filtered.
  • Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito-eating fish.
  • Cover rain barrels with screening.
  • Check for standing water under houses, near plumbing drains, under air conditioner drip areas, around septic tanks and heat pumps.
  • Take steps to eliminate standing water, improve drainage, and prevent future puddling.
  • Protect your skin from mosquito bites when outdoors: wear mosquito repellent (products containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus) or long sleeves and pants. The threat of virus, although minimal, is present throughout the year, and precautions should be taken during outdoor activities. No virus has been detected in Pinellas County’s sentinel chickens this year. 
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