Hillsborough County is saving money while controlling mosquito population

Posted at 4:42 PM, May 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-07 19:59:54-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County’s Mosquito Control Department has been able to find a way to fight mosquitoes off road. 

In the past, the department has depended on aerial surveillance to monitor breeding locations across parts of Hillsborough County that are surrounded by water. 

On Monday, ABC Action News went along with the county as they’re now using ATVs to get to salt marshes. 

Donnie Hayes, Director of Mosquito Control, said they were able to make their own dirt roads to connect to areas surrounded by water. 

“Obviously we weren’t getting boots on the ground out here to really get a hands-on approach to see what’s going on at these salt marshes,” he said. 

Doing aerial searches with a chopper cost the county each time. 

“We’ve been able to reduce our flight hours on our helicopter by about a third,” said Hayes. 

On Monday, even after a weekend of rain, the salt marshes were dry, however, once the rainy season starts, closer to summer, Hayes expects this new approach to be instrumental. 

If a field technician finds larvae breeding in any bodies of water, they can start to treat the area by foot with their chemical spray.

However, if a technician finds large amounts of breeding sites in the salt marshes, they will coordinate their helicopter for aerial sprays. 

“We want those flight hours to go towards treating and killing mosquitoes, not the inspecting,” he said. 

Although an exact dollar amount isn’t calculated on the cost-saving measures, the county said it has already cut their flight hours one-third. 

Hayes said they are using the ATVs in the Apollo Beach area, and near MacDill Air Force Base.