Mosquito control has become a necessary part of human
existence in Florida. In coastal communities, such as Collier County,
the primary target of Mosquito Control Districts are nuisance salt-marsh
mosquitoes. Although the saltmarsh mosquito is not considered a
serious vector of human disease, it can have significant impacts
on the economics of an affected area and human quality of life.
In Collier County, the primary method to control mosquitoes is to
apply pesticides aerially to reduce adult mosquito populations.
Two pesticides, baytex and dibrom, are the primary chemicals being
used. The pesticide applications typically occur before sunrise,
when salt-marsh mosquitoes are most active.
Unfortunately, with the current application technology, pesticides
used to control mosquitoes can also unintentionally harm other forms
of life (Figure
1). Species such as crustaceans, which are physiologically similar
to mosquitoes, are at the greatest risk. For this reason, we used
Fiddler Crabs (Figure
2) to study the environmental impacts of mosquito control pesticides.
The staff of the Rookery Bay National Research Reserve, in conjunction
with the Collier Mosquito Control District, has been studying the
environmental impacts of mosquito control pesticides for ten years.
The goal of this research is not only to identify problems but also
to develop solutions that may reduce unnecessary environmental impacts
while maintaining effective mosquito control.