For Hometown News
They lurk in tall grass. They lie in wait in gutters filled with stagnant rainwater. They rise on stealthy wings from salt marshes.
With mosquito season off to a flying start, Volusia County is ramping up its efforts to kill the pesky invaders.
Mosquito Control staff is out in full force, spraying with larvicides, managing production sites in tidal wetlands, digging and clearing ditches, and stocking ponds with minnows.
The 25 full-time employees have a new focus for the weapons in their arsenal. For the past year, they've been mapping, treating and removing debris from nearly 75,000 storm drains in the mosquito control district, which is primarily east of Interstate 95.
Homeowners can help by doing simple things like tipping containers and disposing of old tires and broken appliances.
"There are a lot of steps you can take around your home," said Jim McNelly, director of Volusia County Mosquito Control. "The most important thing is to remove standing water from your yard because mosquito larvae thrive in standing water. Start by cleaning out your gutters, draining water from boats and tarps, and changing the water in your birdbaths and pet bowls at least once a week."
Sometimes mosquitoes like to come inside for a bite to eat. You can keep them outside by having well-fitting screens on windows and doors. Check for tears and gaps and fix them immediately.
How can you fight the bite? Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so it's best to avoid outdoor activities at these times. If you must go outside, wear long pants, long sleeves and shoes with socks. Apply mosquito repellent to clothing and exposed skin, and use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months.
Mosquitoes are not just annoying. They can transmit serious diseases, including West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis virus and St. Louis encephalitis virus.
County residents who live within the mosquito control district can request service at volusia.org/mosquito or by calling (386) 424-2920 in New Smyrna Beach or (386) 239-6516 in Daytona Beach. Residents of Deltona, DeBary, Orange City, Lake Helen, DeLand and Pierson should call their city.