Mosquito swarm keeps Polk residents indoors

Posted at 11:03 PM, Apr 25, 2016

People who live near a dried up lake turned mosquito infested swamp in Mulberry have a lot to complain about.

More than a 1,000 people live near the lake near the 600 block of N,W, Fifth Avenue. Unless you are outside during a windy day when the mosquitoes aren’t biting or wearing bug spray, long sleeves, and pants, “you are going to get bit,” Charles Mossholder said.

Mossholder has lived in the area for nearly 50 years. He said for the past 10 years he has been asking the city to clean up the overgrown vegetation and spray for mosquitoes.

The problem, according to the Mulberry City Manager Rick Johnson, the lake is on private property. Recently, the property owner died and the city is having trouble finding out who actually owns the land. With all of the overgrown vegetation the water has nowhere to flow and is ending up stagnant.

“The city don't care,” Mossholder said. “If the city, cared it wouldn't be in the shape it's in now.”

Johnson said code enforcement cited the owner of the property $115,000 in violations. But the city doesn’t have the money to go in and cleanup the trash and debris. He said they were waiting on state funds Gov. Rick Scott approved to fight the Zika virus as their funding source.

One resident showed us his backyard. It was full of tires, a refrigerator, and other trash. He said, technically, he isn't allowed to clean up the lake because it is private property. He did it anyway.

Residents say the mosquitoes are so thick at night they will “eat you alive.” After battling this problem for more than a decade, Mossholder hopes something good will come from this report.

“I’m skeptical, but I hope so,” Mossholder said.  

There have been no confirmed cases of Zika being spread in Florida through mosquitoes. But, there are other deadly illnesses that include Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile, and Chikungunya, to name a few.