Palm Beach County plans aerial pesticide attack on mosquitoes

Mosquito season is here, and Palm Beach County has planned an attack.

The Division of Mosquito Control will send a helicopter to spray mosquito pesticide over 270,000 acres of western Palm Beach County on Monday to kill the mosquitoes that have multiplied during recent rains.

County officials have scheduled the aerial spraying for sunset over the areas west of Military Trail, from Jupiter to Boca Raton and the 'Glades.

The mosquito control hotline has received several resident complaints, and has reported an infestation near Boca Raton, the division said. Wet, humid earth creates favorable breeding conditions for species that carry West Nile virus, Dengue fever and St. Louis encephalitis.

Mosquito-control officials worry that consistent heavy rains could lead to another bout of mosquito-borne diseases. Last year, the Florida Department of Health issued health warnings in Palm Beach County after two people were diagnosed with Dengue fever and one person was diagnosed with West Nile virus.

Broward County last reported a West Nile case in 2010. Now its mosquito hotline is fielding hundreds of calls a day, according to Broward County Mosquito Control.

On Monday, Broward's anti-mosquito plane sprayed Pembroke Pines and Southwest Ranches.

Although the mosquito season won't peak until July, these insects have already started assaulting Palm Beach County neighborhoods. They are most likely floodwater mosquitoes, authorities said, which hatch quickly in rainwater and attack aggressively, but don't carry disease.

In about a month or two, a more dangerous species will hatch in water accumulating in ditches, ground depressions, buckets and other containers. These disease carriers need standing water to support their egg. Female mosquitoes lay their egg clusters in containers and debris scattered around abandoned yards.

Palm Beach County mosquito-control officials are urging people to drain standing water on their properties. If going outdoors after dark, people should use an insect repellent with DEET and wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

Palm Beach County residents can report mosquito infestations to the division hotline at 561-642-8775.

Staff writer David Fleshler contributed to this report.


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