Mosquito Control Swamped with Requests; BUSY WITH BUGS Jacksonville Focusing on Zones, Not Addresses; St. Johns Limits Calls

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Byline: JOSH SALMAN

Rainy conditions are dragging on in areas throughout Northeast Florida and causing an explosive increase in mosquito populations.

And an equally explosive increase in calls to area mosquito-control units is keeping employees on the phones rather than in the trenches fighting the problem.

There were 1,800 requests for mosquito service in Jacksonville last week - about one-quarter of what the city gets in an average year, said Richard Smith, superintendent for Jacksonville Mosquito Control.

"It's just an indicator of the magnitude of the mosquito problem in the county," he said. "We've been working a little bit of overtime."

Mosquito Control is still accepting calls for service requests. But rather than treating each address as they've done in the past, the sprayers are focusing on zones.

The areas with the most requests are getting the most treatment - a combination of daily air and ground sprays.

"At this point, they are so numerous, we can't treat them individually," Smith said. "We're doing the best we can to mobilize our forces, and we're in the field as often as possible between showers."

The city also brought in an additional helicopter.

STANDING WATER ONLY

Anastasia Mosquito Control in St. Johns County took things a step further. The county was receiving so many service requests that it has asked residents to call only if they have standing water needing treatment.

Inspectors in the county are working 16 hours a day, said Adam Holt, the county's education specialist.

"We realize the mosquito populations are severe and we're doing everything we can to help alleviate the situation," Holt said. …