Bugged by bugs? consider these strategies to prevent itching,illnesses

By: Lake and Wetland Management Staff
As the summer months continue, residents in these parts have more to worry about than hurricanes.

And while the threat of storms is significant, many people living near waterways are no strangers to dealing with pesky bugs – mosquitoes, midges – especially during the rainy seasons.

In recent years, we’ve learned that some of these bugs cause more problems than simply itching. The Zika virus got worldwide attention, especially in Florida. The tourism industry took a big hit as people avoided areas where there were reports of mosquito infestation. Recently there were reports of a new one – the Keystone virus – also spread by mosquitoes.

And while illnesses from these viruses have been minimal, it’s still important for community associations, golf courses, and municipalities to take appropriate measures to protect residents. It’s a never-ending battle in the summer when these insects thrive, especially near bodies of water.

Our strategies involve much more than swatting these bugs off your arms and legs, burning specialized candles, and having cans of spray handy.

Florida residents are accustomed to what seems to be a never-ending battle to eliminate insects that make simply sitting outside a challenge.

Over the years, we have implemented sophisticated initiatives to battle this problem. Here are some pointers that associations, golf courses and government bodies should consider mitigating risks:

  • Install aeration systems/fountains in lakes and waterways that keep water moving, creating an unhospitable environment for hatching.

  • Associations should inquire about liquid and pellet slow-release insecticides.
  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Check inside and outside your home. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
  • Some communities and municipalities are stocking waterways with the mosquito-eating fish gambusia.
  • There is also evidence that genetically modified mosquitos can be effective. Congress is currently considering granting an emergency license to a British company which has engineered a line of insects whose offspring are unable to grow to adulthood, and, therefore can’t reproduce. Boards of directors should monitor progress on this initiative.
  • It is also important to continually have professionals monitor waterways and shorelines to identify hatching larvae.
  • While we can’t avoid being outside, consider staying indoors during twilight when insects tend to swarm. Also, seek the protection of screened-in patios.
  • Bromeliads grown in tight, cylindrical formations and allow water to pool. Several municipalities have removed them from all government properties. Residents have been encouraged to do likewise.

The summer is a great time, but with it comes rain and hatching of these insects. The impacts can range from irritating itching to serious illnesses. So please implement some of these strategies so you can enjoy the outdoors during these months.