Hillsborough County is being monitored for mosquito growth

Hillsborough County is being monitored for mosquito growth

Ron Kolsen, a veteran mosquito inspector, is busy this summer looking for number and types of mosquito that get trapped in Hillsborough County's 65 mosquito traps. Every Tuesday, Kolsen sorts and counts the insects to conclude which areas had mosquito population breeding and which part of the county needs to receive aerial and ground operations against the bloodsucking mosquitoes.

Kolsen examine many kinds of mosquitoes, hundreds of them, including those with spotted wings, some with black-and-white striped legs. The mosquito he looks for have silver-white scales on their backs. Local mosquito control experts don't expect a Zika epidemic in the Tampa Bay area as summer is already around and so far there is no report of contracting the virus from a mosquito in the United States.

Since January when Zika hit the U.S., inspectors have become more concerned about monitoring Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito), the two species that carry Zika overseas. They are using new traps that can capture low-flying mosquitoes.

The traps employed in Hillsborough attract mosquitoes using light and carbon dioxide. Employees set the traps Mondays and collect them on Tuesdays. They take them to headquarters, where inspector freezes the captive mosquitoes, later to count.

In case a trap is full of females, the area from where the trap is collected is required to be sprayed. If a person is reported to be diagnosed with Zika, the neighborhood receives sprays. The areas can be strayed using department's helicopter using least potent EPA-approved insecticides ensuring mosquitoes do not develop resistant to the chemical.

“We are not waiting and watching. We are out all the time, collecting information and fine tuning our operation as much as possible”, said Carlos Fernandes, the mosquito control director.

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