There have been no reports of the Zika virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in Florida, but the virus remains a concern for many residents.
The two mosquito species implicated in Zika outbreaks in other countries are established in Florida. They are the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti and its close relative the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.
It’s unclear whether Florida populations of these mosquitoes could transmit the virus, but the question will be addressed by researchers at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL) in Vero Beach.
Both species are invasive pests and aggressive daytime biters. Both are dark with white markings. Most significantly, both are container-inhabiting mosquitoes -- females lay eggs above the water line in water-holding containers. After a few days of drying out, the eggs are ready to hatch when the water level rises in the container. This habit makes it difficult for municipal mosquito-control programs to treat potential larval habitat sites, because they are small and numerous.
Floridians can help reduce the possibility of future problems with Zika by reducing populations of these two mosquitoes, by eliminating sources of standing water. Mosquito expert Roxanne Connelly, a professor with FMEL, offers these 10 tips and facts:
LITTER – Discarded bottles and cans, plastic wrappers and bags, drinking cups, plastic or foam food boxes, broken toys, automotive debris, old tires, oyster and coconut shells;
HOUSEHOLD ITEMS – Garbage cans and recycling bins, buckets, pet food dishes, flower pots and bases, toys, garbage bags, galoshes, any watertight items stored on porches and in carports where windblown rain could reach them;
OUTDOOR ITEMS – Grills and portable fire pits, boats and other items covered by waterproof tarps, building materials, children’s play equipment, etc.;
OUTDOOR WATER CONTAINERS – Wading pools, birdbaths, rain gauges, rain barrels;
ABOVE-GROUND ITEMS – Clogged gutters, dents in the roofs of porches, carports or tool sheds.
For more information, UF/IFAS experts have prepared a free booklet, Florida Resident’s Guide to Mosquito Control.