ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Although Labor Day weekend marked the unofficial end of summer, the rainy season lasts well into October, bringing with it the opportunity to be a snack for the Island’s largest population – mosquitos.
“I have no idea what you guys complain about down here, we have a lot more bugs and angrier mosquitos up north than I’ve seen since we’ve been down here,” said Deanna Norton, from the Finger Lakes area of New York. “I don’t know if the lizards eat them here or what, but they will destroy you back home. I’d call them a minor annoyance down here.”
While it may be true that mosquitos can be more of a nuisance in other parts of the country, the Island is certainly home to plenty of them, and some people seem to be targeted more than others.
The Guinness Book of World Records lists the mosquito as the deadliest animal in the world due to the diseases they can carry. While diseases such as malaria are rare in the U.S., West Nile virus, dengue and Zika are very real threats and should be taken seriously.
The Department of Health Manatee (DOH) says they encourage everyone to remain diligent in personal mosquito protection by remembering to “drain and cover.”
- Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected.
- Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
- Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls at least once or twice a week.
- Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
- Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
- Clothing – Wear shoes, socks and long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
- Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
- Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
- Products with concentrations of up to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients listed on the product label.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
- In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.
- Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
- If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
- Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.