Despite getting off to a slow start this year, mosquito season is expected to pick up in the coming months with an increase in rainfall and standing water.
The Lee County Mosquito Control District typically sees a jump in the local mosquito population in May with the spring tides and rain. This year, the season is running about a month or so behind.
"Our mosquito season started a little later than usual," Shelly Redovan, the district's deputy director, said. "We're starting to see standing water now, and we're seeing it throughout the county."
Freshwater mosquitoes require standing water in which to lay their eggs. If the amount of rainfall does not allow for water to stand for several days, the population is essentially kept in check. The salt marsh or coastline mosquito, however, deposits its eggs into the ground, then they hatch as the tide comes in.
"It just depending on the tides and rainfall," she said.
Redovan noted that the wet-dry cycle can pose a problem in fighting the salt marsh mosquito.
"As we get more water that stands, it will be flooding areas for the first time, where it will hold and eggs will hatch," she said, adding that the district should be fairly busy for the next two months.
"It will be more like our May-June type of period," Redovan said.
As for the freshwater mosquito, it tends to breed strictly around people's homes.
"We need people to start getting better at dumping that water out and not breeding their own mosquitoes," she said.
Mosquito season typically starts to calm down in October.
Recently, the Lee County Mosquito Control District started employing its aircrafts to treat the adult mosquito population. Treatments were planned for Thursday night in Lehigh Acres and Iona.
"We had put trucks out, scattered throughout the county," Redovan said of the district's work in recent weeks. "It's not the widespread problem that we normally have (at this time of year)."
Other areas treated include Pine Island and the northwest side of Cape Coral.
Treatments were also administered during high tides to curb the salt marsh mosquitoes.
"But the rains soaked in pretty fast, so they didn't give us that much of a problem," she said.
This year, officials are asking that people who travel to the Caribbean, Dominican Republic or Haiti be aware of the full-blown chikungunya outbreak in the region. There are currently over 300,000 cases.
"Sometimes, they'll visit and they don't realize they've been bitten by mosquitoes," Redovan said, explaining that the infected person then returns home, where they could be fed upon.
"We don't want them exposing our local mosquitoes to a virus that they can pick up," she said.
Anyone returning from the region should see a doctor immediately if they start to feel bad.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Others symptoms may include headaches, muscle pain, joint swelling or a rash.
Redovan offered tips on what people can do to keep from breeding their own mosquitoes.
"The basic things around their house is to try and avoid standing water," she said.
Gutters should be cleared of debris and water, and screens should be intact without rips or cuts.
"We recommend they don't have too much vegetation right near the door," Redovan said.
People should also avoid wearing dark-colored clothing.
"It's always best to wear light-colored clothing," she said. "They're not as attracted to it."
When working or playing outside, use some form of mosquito repellent. More information on those products containing DEET, as well as natural repellents, can be found on the district's website.
"Wear long pants and sleeves," Redovan said.
She noted that the chikungunya-carrying species are active during the day, not at night.
"We want you to consider mosquitoes during the daytime, as well," Redovan said.
For more information, visit the Lee County Mosquito Control District at: www.lcmcd.org.