Controlling mosquito populations may not be the buzziest job in state government. But for a century, mosquito control districts in Florida worked together to keep the world’s deadliest animal at bay.
The Florida Mosquito Control Association (FMCA) held a press conference with lawmakers in the Capital celebrating 100 years of work in Florida.
“Due to Florida’s sub-tropical and tropical climates, ranging from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys, mosquito control programs work 24/7, 365 days a year,” said FMCA President Sandra Fisher-Grainger.
“Mosquito control has become a finely honed science that includes the use of airplanes, helicopters, drones, natural predators and impoundments to control outbreaks across the state.”
Several state lawmakers stood with mosquito officials and advocated for state support for the groups.
“Ensuring the health and well-being of the Florida public is one of FMCA’s top missions, and we can’t thank them enough for everything they do behind the scenes — by air, by boat and on foot — to control the population of these disease-carrying insects,” said Sen. Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican.
“They are highly trained, licensed public servants and we know that the state’s two largest business sectors, tourism and agriculture, could not grow without the professional control of mosquitoes.”
Sen. Erin Grall, a Fort Pierce Republican, and Rep. Tom Fabricio, a Miami Lakes Republican, also stood alongside the state’s mosquito-fighting warriors.
The presser noted the critical role mosquito control has played in fighting outbreaks of viruses including West Nile, Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue Fever. The latter prompted the first Florida Anti-Mosquito Conference in Daytona Beach in 1922, and remains a problem now, with 68 reported Dengue Fever cases in 2022 alone.
Outbreaks through the intervening decades validated the need for Florida governments to keep an eye on the insect population.
“Before 1920, Florida’s development was slow largely because of mosquitoes. It is well known that these biting and disease-carrying pests have slowed progress in most of the tropical and subtropical climates of the world, even still today — but no longer in Florida,” said Keys Mosquito Control District Commissioner Phil Goodman.
“Mosquito control has continually progressed in Florida and is now a very complex and sophisticated science, encompassing elements of every physical and life science while at the same time, protecting our fragile environment.”
Florida has 15 independent mosquito districts, while another 42 counties and municipalities run mosquito control programs. Meanwhile, 80 different species of mosquito sting Floridians from Pensacola to the Florida Keys.
Keeping the bites at a minimum helps maintain the state economy, industry leaders said.
“On behalf of the members of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, we thank FMCA’s members for their role in boosting Florida’s economy by allowing millions of tourists to enjoy outdoor activities, including dining, sports and concerts by keeping the mosquitos at bay,” said Samantha Padgett, vice president of Government Relations and general counsel for the FRLA.
Meanwhile, officials for the districts remain in Florida’s trenches — and marshes and anywhere else with standing water — combatting deadly skeeters.
“Our district employees around the state are tireless in their work,” said Richard Weaver, FMCA President-elect.
“But success is never final. In 2016 the state worked closely with the MCDs and county and municipal mosquito control programs to combat the Aedes aegypti in response to a Zika virus outbreak. This prompt action limited damage to health and businesses. But the Aedes aegypti remains a severe public health threat, responsible for the continued spread of Dengue virus in South Florida.”